Saturday, February 6, 2010

Spicing up your life.

When you’re a vegetarian, you learn to use spices for all they’re worth. We fill our cupboards with them relentlessly, but did you know these wonderful powders and seeds can do so much more than just add flavour to your food? In fact, the news I’m about to impart you with may make your spice cupboard your long-overlooked best friend!

I shared before that I am a huge advocate of Indonesian jamu--now it’s time to make you a fan. Be prepared to stock up on the likes of cinnamon, clove, black pepper, rosemary, thyme, peppermint, ginger and cardamom, because they’re not only good for your taste buds and your winter runny nose, but they’re also year-long warriors for your skin!
I stand around 5’7” and tip the scale at about 110lbs (that’s about 50 kilos flat). I belong to the 10% of the population the bikini was designed for, and even I, with my yoga regimes and sugar-free diet, used to have problems with stubborn fat and cellulite. When people ask my secret, I tell them: “Buy black pepper, cinnamon and peppermint in bulk, drink lots of water and green tea and invest in a stiff-bristled brush.

To try this treatment, you can start by using omega-3 oil capsules, which are readily purchasable at many local pharmacies. You can worry about other oils later; first, it’s most important to be in a routine.
Your daily routine can look something like this:

Puncture the oil capsules to get to the oil inside and mix with finely ground black pepper and cinnamon. (I always suggest these first because most of us have them readily available in our cupboards.) In the shower, scrub trouble areas, then proceed to washing your hair, giving the mixture time to do its job. It’s going to tingle, that’s a good thing. This tingling sensation is actually the capillaries under your skin expanding and increasing blood flow to the area. The thermogenic effect boils down to one thing: more blood in means more toxins out.
Rinse the scrub off and continue washing as per your usual daily routine. When you’re all done and you turn the water off, it’s time for your trusty body brush!
With swift strokes, starting at your feet, and moving in a circular manner around your limbs, brush up towards your heart. Start with your legs, continue to your arms, then come back to your torso. This will not only loosen dead skin cells, but it gets those toxins a-moving! When you’re all done, continue on to moisturizing with the green-favourite organic coconut oil. (As this becomes a bigger part of your daily routine, you’re notice you need less and less moisturizer.)

As with anything in the beauty world, we need to set some time aside for the more heavy duty aspects, but this will never seem like a burden once you get into the habit of setting time aside. Ideally, this should be done twice a week. Try to aim for a Wednesday evening and a weekend, because it’s spa-time!
This particular spa experience is directly based on the Indonesian practice of lulur. Lulur originated in the palace and would last for forty days, preparing a princess for marriage. Today, it’s a highly rejuvenating and pampering practice. It’s bi-weekly use should leave you feeling soft, supple, green, and simply royal.
Start with a good body brushing this time, because the idea here is for a full body detox. Add some thyme and a bay leaf or two to a much larger portion of scrub than you would use for daily use. Thyme is fantastic for boosting energy—perfect for those drab winter months—and bay leaf combats depression and promotes a sense of well being. If you want, you can finely grind (then soak) rice granules for a more effective body scrub.

Grapeseed oil is a much better candidate for your full body scrub than your daily-use omega-3, simply because of sheer amount and viscosity.
Finish off with a relaxing soak in jasmine and ylang ylang bath water. Moisturize and rest, because beautiful skin needs its beauty sleep.

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