Saturday, March 20, 2010

30 Days to 10 years younger--10 minute tips. Tip 18: Grow

You're thinking I've gone mental, right? How can you grow? OK, you can't. But you can give the impression of being taller very easily. How?

Stand up straight.

I know, I know. Boring. But it's true. After all, what do we associate with old lady-dom? Dowager's hump--you know, that situation when a woman's neck sticks out instead of up. I'm sure you don't have dowager's hump. But why would you want to look like you do?

Then there's debutante slouch--where the chest is concave and the pelvis juts forward. It doesn't look so hot on girls who are young enough to be debutantes, like Miley Cyrus. And, guess what? It looks even worse on women old enough to be Editor in Chief of Vogue magazine.

Here's the real problem with posture. If your posture's really crummy, standing and sitting up straight is going to seem like a lot of work. And it will take a lot of effort to maintain. After five minutes to perfect posture, you'll be exhausted.

There are two reasons for this. The first is poor muscle tone in the upper back and shoulders. If you're spending all your time typing at a laptop, those muscles aren't being used, and they start to atrophy. Standing and sitting up straight becomes too tiring. It's easier to slump.

The best cure for this is swimming, dance, yoga, and fencing--any activity that uses the entire body and stresses good body mechanics will help your posture. (I mean, have you ever really looked at the women on the stair machine? They may have buns of steel, but they have the worst posture ever. Don't let that be you.)

Unfortunately, I don't get to the gym very often. I tend to walk or use our home treadmill, which means only the bottom half of my body is getting used. And this means I need to add some weight lifting to my regime.

The second thing that helps improve my posture is stretching, particularly my lower back. I find two things really help loosen my lower back muscles and decompress my spine: yoga positions like the Child and Downward Dog, or dance stretches on a mat on the floor.

Strengthening and stretching the muscles of the neck, shoulders and back makes it easier to stand with good posture habits: stomach in, butt up, knees soft, and a straight line from the ear/shoulder/knees.

If you find it hard to keep your body properly aligned for longer than five minutes at a time, you've got your work cut out for you. But in the mean time, remember: standing tall is the fastest way to grow an inch, lose ten pounds, and take 10 years off your age.

8 comments:

  1. My mom isn't stupid - she's been telling me to stand up straight my whole life. (Not that you were implying that my mother is stupid.)
    I've taught the kids to scream OLD HAG at me if I'm slumping.

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  2. Miley Cyrus at the Oscars? I kept screaming at her to "Stand UP! You look terrible!" I'm working on it myself.

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  3. I love your posting on posture.

    you write exactly what comes to my mind, looking at the young girls in their prom-dresses.

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  4. AMEN, sister. I would like to see these girls in, say, 10 years ...

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  5. My mother's lesson was to pretend that there was a string at the top of your head and to pretend you were pulling it up. That made us all stand up straight... that and the walking around with books on our heads.

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  6. One of the things that has stuck with me from my ill-fated attempts at fitness is how much better I feel if I just center myself in my core while I am standing, sitting, etc. It may not look dramatic, but when you suddenly hit that balance of supporting your weight properly, it's amazing how strong you feel.

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  7. So true...I often see women all slouched over, readers perched on the ends of their noses, and think WTH are they saying about themselves? Or maybe they are happy looking this way. Who knows? I feel like telling them, "Pull your shoulders back, sista and stand up straight!" Velma, I couldnt agree more...it's all it the core, isn't it?

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  8. Two weeks ago, I was visiting my grandmother and we were flipping through the Oscars issue of People. Upon seeing Miley Cyrus, we both said something along the lines of, "she's not even standing up straight. What a shame." Then I said, "Her grandmother must not have taught her to stand up straight," and I really appreciated the efforts she made with me. She got a chuckle out of that. She passed away last week, and this post just made me think of her.

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Gentle Readers:

For the time being, I've turned off comment moderation. Please don't spam; it's not nice.

xxx, Poppy.