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In 2022, when we’re wholly consumed by optimising our athletic abilities, putting in the soul work and overall becoming our best selves, spending too much time on your outward appearance isn’t perhaps viewed as the worthiest of pursuits. But often improving what’s on the surface nourishes the inside too. There are, it turns out, plenty of unexpected perks to being a bit vain.
Mercedes Sieff knows this all too well. Having founded Yeotown twelve years ago, the ultimate healthy lifestyle retreat that had a simple start in the wilds of Devon, they’ve now expanded it to an island getaway retreat in Madeira, a thriving London eatery and a further restaurant residency launching imminently. Their Yeotown 5-day signature health programme includes coastal hikes, juice fasts, detoxes and yoga, which is why those searching for impressive weight loss transformations gravitate towards it, only to end up unearthing a whole lot more in the process.
“Whilst there are obviously things we do that work outwards, be that the hiking or the fitness, it’s not just a boot camp or detox plan. We also work inwards optimising both physical and mental health,” Mercedes Sieff explains. Alongside the clean eating and fresh air coastal hikes are sessions of extensive meditation for mental expansion and cold water immersion for building immune system resilience.
“Juice fasts and detoxes achieve those weight loss goals but more importantly, taking an intentional pause from certain foods and unknown intolerances like dairy, caffeine and sugar, addresses that powerful gut-brain connection that so influences our moods and emotional state." Weight loss, she adds, is a by-product of healthy eating and movement, "signalling that your internal system is working more efficiently but it’s so much more than just digestion."
Yoga is another one for hidden benefits. Of course, there’s the much coveted ‘yoga body’- all supple limbs and toned muscles - but the long-term internal wins are as profound as the aesthetic ones. In the physical sense, yoga improves posture, enhances spine strength and reduces the chance of joint aches and pains, “but fundamentally yoga is the linked breath,” Sieff continues. “Yoga will always carry the physical advantages of muscle definition and looking great but true yoga is what happens off the mat. Through intentional, concentrated breath work we build mental muscle because where the breath goes, the mind follows.” The breath skills yoga teaches can be employed in high stress and discomforting situations that are just as wide-ranging as the numbers of places where your flexibility might benefit you.
Yoga also comes into play on a cellular level; that Pranayama breath control – filling the lungs, holding, then releasing until they are completely empty again - has a powerful effect on both body and brain. The knock-on being that the deeper and more conscious the breath, the fresher the oxygen supply delivered into cells throughout the body, and the more effective it will be at nourishing the internal organs. On the inverse, fully exhaling stale air releases toxins and brings down inflammation. Sustained breath work also improves lung capacity for better long-term respiratory function against disease and illness.
A good beauty regime assigns regular time to extensive facial massage, encouraging blood flow to the surface, enabling skincare products to be more effective and creating better circulation in the superficial layers. This has the pleasing effect of feeding the epidermal cells and preserving precious collagen for brighter, more vital, glowing skin. That should be reason enough to work it into your bedtime routine. But the very action of rhythmically massaging the face has also been proven to reduce stress, bring down cortisol levels, calm the mind and regulate the breath - the perfect antidote following a demanding day.
Likewise, when it comes to the body, vigorous massage combined with dry skin brushing is by far the best way to combat stubborn cellulite. As an added bonus, the circulatory boost of all that mechanical massage also kick-starts lymphatic drainage, expelling toxins from the body and can help ease joint pain and inflammation. Suddenly, slipping into the spa gains a more virtuous purpose than mere pampering.
Likewise, regularly taking a keratin beauty supplement has been proven to improve hair strength and growth, prevent nails breaking and increase elasticity and hydration levels in the skin, making it a great surface level solution. Yet keratin isn’t just for a pretty face: as a prolific structural protein it forms tissue throughout the body, including muscles and ligaments. Taking a proven, highly solubilised form of keratin such as Cynatine® HNS comes with considerable health improvements on the side. In the case of the LYMA nutraceutical complex, where Cynatine® HNS is accompanied by nine other power ingredients, the health benefits are significantly amplified. Anti-inflammatory HydroCurc®, immune system--supporting Vita-Algae D3, rest-inducing KSM-66® Ashwagandha and bone-strengthening K2VITAL® DELTA are all included in the expert LYMA formulation; a full body health Supplement for ultimate mind and body wellness.
It’s not just what you eat, but when you eat that matters. Intermittent fasting is one such health approach that boasts both aesthetic improvement and a profound health payback. Those who hop on the 5:2 Diet, namely for the dramatic weight loss results, also find themselves with increased productivity, better mental focus, a positive mindset and a noticeable energy boost. But why? Giving the body a rest from having to digest its fuel allows for substantial health benefits. This is why LYMA’s resident clinical pharmacologist and pharmaco-nutritionist Dr Paul Clayton advocates TRE – Time Released Eating - for long-term wellness and warding off disease. “The minimum fasting time most people agree on is 14 hours. So, if you eat your last meal at 7pm, your next meal should not be before 9am. That leaves a 10-hour period for eating, and the latest refinement is that you should eat three meals, five hours apart. So, if your first meal was at 9am, your second should be at 2pm and your final meal of the day should be eaten at 7pm. The same schedule should be repeated every day.”
The science behind such a structured eating pattern goes right down to our cellular make-up. “Mitochondria are minute structures inside our cells that act as the cells’ power generators," explains Dr Clayton. "They were originally bacteria that infected us and never left, and because the original bacteria had circadian rhythms of activity, our cells do too.” Erratic eating, late-night binging or continuous grazing can all put our digestion out of sync with these ancient biological rhythms, causing increased inflammation within the body and the potential onset of degenerative diseases.
On top of fitting into jeans better, those on the TRE method are found to enjoy better heart health, reduced blood sugar levels and increased immunity.
It seems we must reframe vanity and place importance in cultivating our looks. Often that impetus to address the superficial, inadvertently impacts our inner workings and leaves us glowing just as much on the inside, as the out. If it makes you stand taller, breathe deeper, creates a moment of pause or gets the blood pumping? Intentions be damned, it’s time to say it's good for you.