Fall Beauty Tips: Dry Skin is Never In!

 

There are a lot of beauty benefits to fall: avoiding the sweat that clogs our pores during the warmer months, a significant decrease in humidity, which leaves our hair gorgeous and flowing. However, as the weather cools down, women face seasonal beauty troubles that interrupt our daily routines. This month at Dress for Success, we are here to help you combat one of the most devious fall beauty culprits: dry skin.

This impending cold weather woe can easily become more irritating than trick-or-treaters who keep knocking long after you’ve turned your lights off. Cooler temperatures mean less moisture in the air. And as the temperature drops, so does the humidity that helps maintain our dewy summer complexion. While cooler air may be great for your blow out, it unfortunately drains the moisture from your skin, leaving it noticeably parched. Even normal habits we develop in the winter and fall, like drinking more coffee to combat the fatigue we feel from earlier sunsets, contribute to developing dry skin. In fact, too much caffeine is one of the greatest causes of dry skin. And those hotter showers you take to warm up from the morning frost? Hot water actually strips our skin of necessary oils to keep us hydrated.

Think you are about to spend the entire winter irritable and scratching away? The good news is that there are many ways we can keep our skin nourished during the colder months of the year.

  • The first step is to moisturize. Investing in a bottle of thick lotion moisturizer is the easiest way to ensure that you won’t be feeling itchy all day from flaky skin. Most retailers carry generic brands that cost only a few dollars and are large enough to last you until the spring. It’s easy to incorporate lathering up into your daily routine, start just by using your lotion right after your shower.

 

  • But remember what we told you about hot showers? Save some money on your heating utilities and stop taking them! Stick to warm showers and baths, which won’t remove the oils that keep your skin hydrated.

 

  • Also, you have probably learned from a young age that milk does the body good. In fact, the natural fats and lactic acid in milk can soften and exfoliate the dead skin cells which are making you itch. But don’t waste your money on expensive “milk-infused” spa products; one of our favorite tricks is to just add two cups of milk to a warm bath. This simple step hydrates your skin and gives you a relaxing spa experience right in your own home. Add a little music and what better way to relax and rejuvenate after a hard day’s work?

 

  • But, the ultimate secret to keep you itch free all winter? Drink more water. Water hydrates the body inside and out. Eight glasses of water a day will not only best prepare you to combat dry skin, but with those sips you are guaranteed to be keeping your body healthy and hydrated throughout all the cold months ahead.

A Lot Rides on Teamwork

By: Reesa Staten of Robert Half

Early in my career with Robert Half, I joined a cycling team organized by the company for a two-day charity ride through California’s Napa Valley wine country and Sonoma coast. It was a great way to meet colleagues and raise money for a good cause (in this case, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society). Over the years, the work friendships I formed on that first ride and subsequent team events have benefitted me professionally and personally.

I kept biking, occasionally taking vacations that included bike tours. This summer, I completed RAGBRAI (the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa), a weeklong, 468-mile ride across the state of Iowa. As an Iowa native, the ride had long been on my wish list.

I bring up the ride in a career column because I learned a lot about teamwork on this journey. I also learned the value of having personal goals in addition to your professional ones. For years I had put off signing up for RAGBRAI because it fell on one of my busiest weeks at work. It was easier to push off the ride than to try to explain to colleagues who would need to cover for me that I wanted a week off to ride my bike. And, yet, as it turned out, my colleagues were happy to help — and even a little inspired by my commitment to putting in the weeks and months of training it takes to prepare for a major endurance event.

I am not an athlete by nature, so my first hurdle was making room for training. Exercise doesn’t generally top my list of things to do after a long day at work. I eventually had to book appointments with myself just so it was on the calendar. And that was the secret. By prioritizing exercise and training the same way I prioritized other aspects of my life, I was able to find the time to get active. As I grew stronger physically, I found I became sharper in my job. I also had more interesting stories to tell friends and family that did not revolve around what I did at the office that day!

I admire people who have mastered work-life balance. The ones who can successfully juggle career demands and family obligations, make time for volunteer activities with a local church or nonprofit, and maintain an active fitness regimen. Work has always come first for me, often at the expense of being a well-rounded person in other aspects of life. I learned this summer that making time for myself made me better in all aspects of my life, including my career.

I also realized teamwork extends beyond the workplace if you have developed strong ties with coworkers. My office colleagues regularly asked me about my training progress. When an injury sidelined me for a few weeks, my inbox was filled with emails encouraging me to keep going. On my birthday, my office was decorated with inspirational messages and cycling photos to get me excited about the ride. I am fortunate to have an amazing group of colleagues — but I’ll bet many of you work with people who are equally engaged in helping you be successful in whatever you pursue.

I was in touch with the office at several points during the seven-day ride. Not for business updates, but to share photos from the various towns along the way. And I will pay it forward the next time one of my coworkers needs support to help reach a goal — at work or outside the office.

I had an amazing time riding RAGBRAI — it was physically challenging, but just like my coworkers back at the office, there was a support network of fellow riders at every stage. People are like that. It’s human nature to want others to succeed. So don’t be afraid to share your goals.

Chances are there is something you have always wanted to do, but work or family obligations have held you back. If you have a personal ambition, find the time to make it a reality. Your goal may or may not relate to your career. In either case, don’t put it off. You are capable of more than you imagine — and you have more support than you realize.

If you’re reading this, you are most likely already part of the Dress for Success network, and you know firsthand the support available to you from DFS staff, volunteers and fellow clients. Helping others reach their full potential is embedded in the mission of this organization. Use the resources available to you to gain the confidence and support you need to reach your goals.

And don’t forget to leave a little personal time, just for you.

Reesa Staten is senior vice president of Corporate Communications and director of workplace research for Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm. Staten has been writing job search advice for more than 15 years and oversees Robert Half’s extensive workplace research program. Write to her at reesa@roberthalf.com.

What Are GMOs and Why Is Everyone Arguing Over Them?

Genetically Modified Organisms—or GMOs—caught the public’s attention this year when the popular Mexican chain, Chipotle, became the first fast food restaurant to ban the use of all GMO ingredients in their food.  Under their slogan “Food with Integrity,” this announcement ignited a debate in which some praised the international chain for taking an unprecedented stance to put people before profits, while others dismissed it as little more than a PR stunt. But the truth is the GMO controversy has been around for 20 years without many of us really knowing what exactly a GMO is.

To start, a GMO occurs when a gene is intentionally moved from one organism and placed into another to create some type of change, also referred to as a “transgenic” meaning the transfer of genes. Though scientists have been experimenting with this technology for decades, the dispute really began for the public in 1996 when agricultural giant Monsanto genetically modified soybeans. Today, more than 90% of all corn, cotton and soybeans are GMOs.  These crops occupy more than 167 million acres of land and have catapulted GMOs to the center of the American diet.

Genetically modified corn and soy show up in everything from your cereal to salad dressing.  To break it down, 75% of the food we purchase from the grocery store is processed, and 75% of all those processed foods contain GMOs.  To get you up to speed, we took a look at both sides of the argument, broke down the most contentious issues and made you a guide.

The Safety Debate

Pro GMO

The World Health Organization and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) have declared all the current GMO foods on the market safe.

Anti-GMO

There are more layers to the safety stamp of approval that complicate this answer. Many anti-GMOers say they are not necessarily concerned about the human health risks from GMOs but rather the way GMOs are being tested. The testing is technically voluntary; however, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can block any food from reaching the market, which makes it almost impossible for companies to bypass this regulatory hurdle.

Anti-GMO issues with the safety testing requirements

-The testing is performed by the company also responsible for the genetic modification rather than a third party. The FDA makes sure companies go through the process rather than evaluating if their testing is effective and there is no way to guarantee they are performing the right kind of tests.

-Companies are allowed to perform unlimited tests, and they are not required to present all of their findings to the FDA; therefore, they can technically show only favorable results.

 

Heath Debate

Pro-GMO

The process of genetic modification can make food more nutritious. Scientists are now able to remove naturally occurring bacteria that cause diseases and swap it out for more vitamin rich genes that add to the food’s nutritional value.  They are experimenting with adding genes that contain vitamin A and iron to foods like tomatoes and rice to increase their health benefits.

Anti-GMO

There’s too much we don’t know about transfer of genes. It’s possible that we could introduce new allergies to our food by swapping genes in and out. Individuals have different reactions to food, and adding a new gene could cause a totally new reaction. It’s also possible a known allergen could be placed in an unsuspecting food and cause a reaction where it is not expected (think genes from allergy-inducing peanuts being put in tomatoes).

Environmental Debate

Pro-GMO

GMO technology helps cut back on chemicals used in farming. GMO seeds such as corn and soy are made to be pesticide resistant by injecting a toxic gene into the seed. This enhances the productivity of large-scale industrial farming because farmers actually use less pesticide on crops.

Anti-GMO

This technology can create super weeds that become more resistant to pesticides and actually requires the use more chemicals to contain them.

Economical Debate

Pro-GMO

GMOs are necessary to feed the world. We have a rapidly increasing population and decreasing supply of food and natural resources. This technology would make it possible to meet the rising food demands by creating crops that are disease resistant and harvesting them at a much more efficient rate. One successful case is the papaya. Genetic Modification was used to make the fruit resistant to the ring spot virus that threatened to wipe out the entire Hawaiian papaya industry in the mid-90’s. 

Anti-GMO

They argue it’s not a problem with genetic modification itself; it is how the technology is being used. As of now, three companies control more than half of the global seed market. The company making the most waves in this arena is Monsanto.  Anti-GMOers say they developed herbicide resistant soybeans to sell more of the weed killer Roundup, which is also produced by Monsanto. This overlap has created a monopoly of the food system that anti-GMOers worry is driven by corporate profits rather than public needs and desires.

Where we are now and what do both sides want?

Pro-GMO

They want the media to stop spreading fear of GMOs. Proponents of genetic modification say enhanced skepticism from the public is delaying the technical advancements needed to make GMOs more viable. They believe the entire industry has been stigmatized by Monsanto’s “Rockafeller-esque” image and tout there are several other successes that make GMOs not only safe but necessary.

Anti-GMO

They want to make labeling GMO products mandatory. Sixty-four countries already require GMO labeling, but so far nothing has been passed in the U.S.  Anti-GMOers also want more independent research and testing to level out corporate control of genetically modified foods to place the stress on consumer safety over profits. In addition, they advocate for more transparency with the current testing. If more was known about the testing process, the public could make a better informed decision on their acceptance of GMO foods in their diet.

Whether you’re active in the debate or not, GMOs play a large role in our current food system and affect our lives far beyond what we put on our plate.   And now that GMOs are not just the acronym left out of your burrito bowl, you can join the debate. For another health trend hack, check out our Gluten-Free breakdown. 

Volunteer Your Way to a Healthier You!

‘Tis better to give than to receive, according to the old adage, but did you know giving your time can actually give you a longer lifespan. Studies show volunteering can reduce the risk of death by 25%, improving both physical and mental wellbeing.

Providing support for those who need it allows for a sense of purpose and meaning that may not be fulfilled by our regular jobs or relationships. Volunteering can offer new skill sets, exposure to different fields and the opportunity to forge new relationships. These experiences help to boost self-confidence and morale, which can lead to higher productivity at work.

This same sense of usefulness bolsters positive emotions and lowers stress levels that effect you on a physical level. A reduction in stress helps to boost immunity and stave off diseases. By donating time and engaging with others, you gain perspective and a larger world view, which reduces risk of depression and instills a sense of belonging.

As women, we statistically volunteer at a higher rate than men and, with benefits ranging from higher functionality to lower risk of heart disease, volunteering may just be one reason why we are outliving our male counterparts.

There’s no better time to give your time than now, so look up your favorite local charity (we can definitely think of a good one!) and see how you can help out .  You’ll be doing both them and you a favor!

Don’t Just Be a Soccer Mom, Be a Soccer Player!

Many of you may be proud soccer moms, but you might be surprised to hear that there are benefits to getting out there and kicking the ball around with your kids. Soccer is an easy sport to pick up, and most people have so much fun playing that it’s easy to forget you’re also working out.

Soccer is great for fitness and cardiovascular health. Its biggest health benefit comes from the fact that soccer forces you to keep moving. By forcing players to shift between walking, running, and standing still, soccer builds strength, flexibility and endurance. The sport is also known for lowering body fat, improving muscle tone, and increasing coordination. By simply grabbing a ball and kicking around with a friend in the park, you can easily start getting all the benefits of this fun sport.

Don’t be afraid of being inexperienced either, soccer is designed for all skill levels. In addition to the awesome benefits soccer provides for your body, the sport is also a great way to make some new friends. Soccer is all about teamwork. In fact, unless you chose to practice by yourself, the game itself requires you to work with others. It is a great way to meet people and exercise with friends.

Besides just a more toned body and new friends, women benefit from many other side effects of this great team sport. Soccer teaches its players to think on-the-go, a habit that is great both on the field and can easily be carried into the boardroom. While at first running and kicking the ball at the same time might bring out the clumsiness in all of us, don’t give up, you will also most likely see an increase in your concentration, persistence and self-discipline skills after only a few games. And don’t forget, like most physical activity, soccer provides an opportunity to increase your confidence and self-esteem. So join a game and let loose those weekly stresses from the office by scoring a few goals on the field.

Here are a few tips on how to get started:

 

  1. All you need is one piece of equipment: a ball! The soccer field can easily be substituted by backyards, streets, or beaches. So head to your local sporting goods store or Walmart and pick up a soccer ball to start practicing.

 

  1. A game of soccer doesn’t require a large number of people; it can be as simple as playing with a few friends. Or you can even practice your kicking skills all on your own!

 

  1. If you find that you love the game, most cities have free pick-up teams. Pick-up soccer is a great way to meet other individuals in your local community who enjoy the sport and the work out that comes with it. Can’t find a team in your town? Be bold and start one yourself!

Get a Handle on Your Homework with These Tips

Coming home at the end of the day usually means that your time to unwind is about to begin and you can finally kick off your shoes and let your stresses just slip away. But when you’re back in school—and trying to balance your academic load with your work schedule and responsibilities at home—chances are, your day is far from done when you walk through your front door. So what about when you return from a long day and still have homework to do? Navigating those piles of laundry, cooking dinner and trying to catch up with family while watching the news can be distracting. So we’ve compiled a few tips to help you de-stress and actually increase your productivity at home:

  • Turn off Entertainment Tonight and turn on some classical music. Research shows that music affects both the mind and body, improving everything from sleep quality to cognitive performance. Specifically Baroque classical music, which refers to composers such as Johann Bach, was shown to improve work life quality by increasing both efficiency and accuracy.
  • Houseplants are not just for decoration. We know that fresh air and nature are proven des-stressors, so why not bring the same benefits indoors. Adding some greenery will not only liven a space, but also help to purify the air by absorbing harmful toxins and releasing oxygen into the room. Try a snake plant, they are low maintenance and do not require a lot of sunlight. Also known as “mother in-law’s tongue,” this quintessential house and office plant is known for its air-filtering quality, reducing the amount of formaldehyde in the air, prevalent in most household cleaners. The physical result? More breathable air and fewer headaches.
  • Set the mood. Studies show that burning essential oils can help to lower stress levels and release tension. Both lavender and chamomile are popular oils, touted for their soothing abilities and even doubling as sleep aids. Not into the scent? Try putting a couple drops of the oil into your tea at night for the same benefits.
  • Clear the area. First remove everything from your desk or workspace so you can visually see the space you have to work with—then clean it. After, organize all your materials and file them away. Do not keep loose papers on your desk. This physical de-cluttering mentally clears your mind and frees up the space needed for actual work to be done. Try a similar cleaning of your virtual desktop. Organize necessary files on your computer into folders and trash the rest. Limiting the number of icons on your screen will reduce visual clutter that can create a subconscious mental chaos and increase stress.
  • Get back to basics. Try physically writing rather than typing. This seemingly archaic skill is proven to actively engage your brain in the writing process, improving concentration and helping you focus on what’s most important in the moment. Writing also cuts down on distractions while working. A computer houses a world of temptation— short breaks to surf the web in between sentences can easily disrupt thought flow. Added bonus? Handwriting can also help ward off the inevitable headaches caused from staring at a computer screen too long.

Now study up, so you can ace that test!

Boost Your Productivity While on Your Lunch Break!

It’s 12:45 p.m. and you’ve worn out the refresh button on your email. It’s probably time to take a lunch break! Though most of us find time to scrounge up a sandwich and a cup of coffee in our allotted hour, we often spend the rest of the day waiting for the caffeine to kick in before we see 5 p.m. roll around, but with these handy tips below, you can now turn off the automatic timer on the coffee pot and take an actual lunch break that will boost your energy and productivity, naturally.

It’s Time to Make Time:

In order to maximize your lunch break, you must first take a break. The key is to actually schedule a time in your calendar to eat and refresh. If you set a time at the beginning of the day, you will be less likely to forego lunch when you get hit with an impromptu meeting or project. Skipping meals to be more productive will actually have the opposite effect. Not eating for several hours will cause your glucose levels to drop, which gives the body nothing to convert to fuel and leaves the brain running on empty.

Unchain the Desk:

Pulling some left over oyster crackers from your side drawer and snacking while continuing to research does not constitute a lunch break, nor will it help you concentrate when you hit afternoon crunch time. Around 2/3 of all workers eat at their desks or skip lunch all together. This makes you more likely to snack all day on sugary, high fat foods that provide a quick spike in energy, but ultimately leave you unsatisfied and lethargic throughout the day.

Step Away from the Screens:

Stepping out of your office and away from your computer to eat will help stimulate new thoughts through a change of scenery.  But in the age of smart phones, most of us have our computer by our side at all times. We are constantly stimulated and straining our eyes to see small images on a screen. This sensory overflow can cause headaches, lack of concentration and a shorter attention span. In order to actually feel the effects of a break, try to resist the urge to surf the internet or check social media during lunch, this will allow your system to recharge and you’ll return to work more alert.

Get Physical & Get Outdoors:

We know getting to the gym during your lunch break can be daunting, so it’s a good thing taking a walk outside not only has the same effect, but is actually more beneficial. Walking increases creativity, and a walk in the park can reduce stress, improve concentration and encourage a positive attitude. The scent of flowers and foliage has a calming effect and being surrounded by Mother Nature allows you to feel an innate sense of protection and therefore relaxation—and you get a nice dose of Vitamin D, which will help lift your spirits.  A 20-minute walk is even said to provide the energy equivalent to a cup of coffee!  Summer won’t be here forever, so make the most of it while you can!

Take a Mental Vacation with This Simple Trick!

The Power Walk for Dress for Success is taking place in more than 30 cities throughout five countries this month, so we’ve clearly had health & wellness on our minds!  But when most of us think about being healthy and about being well, we tend to focus solely on the body, when we should also be focusing on the mind.

So we tapped into the insight of  Alexa Fischer to see what she does when she feels like she might be getting a little overwhelmed– and finding a way to recharge might be easier than you think! Watch her video here to hear about the simple trick she found on how to take a mental vacation without totally checking out!

 
Alexa Fischer uses the skills she learned at The Yale School of Drama and on countless primetime television shows to help people speak with confidence and calm in any situation. Versatile and useful, her methods can be applied to boardroom pitches, public speaking, promotional videos,  even cocktail small talk. Alexa is honored to have worked with Fortune 500 companies like Trader Joe’s and SONY and smaller, philanthropic organizations like the Step Up Women’s Network and Dress for Success. She works with clients in group workshops, through online classes, and one-on-one, helping each person polish their speaking and presentation skills while tapping into their own greatness. Grab her free video course, Public Speaking 101 at alexafischer.com.

Fix Your Fitness Mistakes with These Tips from Brett Hoebel!

“Work-out” used to be a dreaded seven letter word, but in recent years, more and more women are eagerly throwing on some spandex and heading to their local gyms and neighborhood parks to sweat their way to a healthier life.  But while going for a brisk walk around the block or hitting the cardio machines might seem like simple tasks, there’s a variety of variables to consider when trying to achieve your desired results effectively and efficiently.

Our friend and fitness guru Brett Hoebel—who you might remember as a trainer from The Biggest Loser!—broke down some common mistakes that many women make as they try to get in shape and stay healthy.

Ignoring Emotional Eating

Despite working out more, the obesity statistics have remained pretty similar. One major reason why is emotional eating. Studies show that is the number one issue you must resolve to get and stay in shape. If you suffer with emotional eating, seek out ways to figure out the problem and take the steps necessary to solve it. Whether it’s counseling, journaling, or one-on-one meetings with family and friends to discuss past hurts, you must address the emotions that lie beneath. Don’t ignore emotional eating as if it’s just your problem. Find the cause so you can get past using food for comfort.

Comparing Your Body to Others

How many times have you picked yourself apart for not having what someone else does body-wise, or worse, reminiscing on what you may have looked like in another point in your life. Instead, find ways to boost your confidence and accept your body for what it is. Of course you want to look and feel your best, but the only way you can get there is if you stop beating yourself up, and be nice to what you already have. The body you own now is the body you need to get the body you want. Treat it well, and it will reflect how you feel about it.

Leaving Your Cup Half-Empty

With many of the women I’ve trained, I’ve found that they put their needs last on their daily to-do list. To fill up other people’s cups, you have to have a full cup yourself or you’ll burnout. A healthy person is one who can balance the needs of others without forgetting about themselves. Don’t guilt yourself out of finding me-time. It is in that time of self-reflection that you can refresh and be re-invigorated to do things for others. Especially if you are a Mom, being a good example also includes teaching your family how to take care of themselves.

Only Doing Cardio

“While spot reduction shouldn’t be a focus, neither should doing the same cardio exercises.” Mix up your cardio workout arsenal. High intensity cardio is an easy way to burn calories and keep your fitness levels on the up and up. However, it will take work to keep the progress going. Instead of doing the same set of time at the same intensity on the treadmill or elliptical, add resistance along with higher intensity intervals to challenge yourself. Doing the same cardio session day in and day out is like lifting the same weight:  you’ll never get stronger. You might also incorporate some short bouts of cardio into a circuit that includes core exercises, strength training, and dynamic movements that allow for full range of motion movements.

Ignoring Long-Term Goals

Now to the hardest thing for both men and women to do: take a big-picture approach to health and fitness. Beyond your weight loss goals, or trying to fit a certain size of skinny jeans, getting more fit and eating healthy is a long-term goal. This goal isn’t about other people, it’s about you. Your health, your happiness, and your ability to accomplish the goals you have in life. How many people have you seen say they can’t do this or that. You can be the difference if you look at your health and fitness from within.

Brett has even more tips on this topic on his website, so check them out to make sure that your fitness strategy remains mistake free!  He even has a free ebook to download to make sure that even when you’re on the go, you’re able to have access to knowledge that you need!

Celebrity Fitness & Motivation expert Brett Hoebel was a trainer on NBC’s The Biggest Loser, health expert on Food Network’s Fat Chef, and judge on Fit or Flop: America’s Next Fitness Star. Brett is the creator of the 20 Minute Body™, RevAbs® from Beachbody, and frequently blogs for LIVESTRONG.COM, US News, Eleven By Venus and other prominent media outlets. He regularly appears on TV shows like Dr. Oz and The Talk to discuss topics such as weight loss, bullying and emotional obstacles, and contributes to national publications like SELF and Fitness Magazine.