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Thank social media for putting the spotlight on the "gray to gorgeous" movement that's empowering women to liberate ourselves from plucking, dying, or otherwise fighting nature's graceful process that is going gray. “People, especially women, have been conditioned to think that gray hair equals ‘old,’ and only ‘youth’ is beauty—but this couldn’t be farther from the truth,” says David E. Bank, MD, a dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of Dermatology at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. Your hair is genetically programmed to grow at a certain color at a certain time, he says, and embracing that can help you feel more confident.
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When salons shut down during the pandemic, many women had no choice but to rethink their relationship with their grays. Letting nature “take its course” may be more economical and less time-consuming...but, considering the point Dr. Bank makes about pressures from society and even the people in our lives, it's no wonder many people don’t love the growing-out process. Devin Giannoni, a Hollywood stylist and founder of Pretty Public Beauty (who is certified in Botantical Body Care by the New York Institute of Aromatic Studies and holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies at eCornell) suggests there can be a graceful a middle ground: dying your hair in a way that allows you to gradually transition to gray. “The trick is to enhance what you were born with, while not fighting the gray," Gianonni says. "Constantly dying it darker actually will age you and look artificial."
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She suggests finding a stylist who specializes in gray transitions and requesting a color that is close to your base. Then, your stylist might work in some dimension and depth with gentle highlights to blend out sharp differences in color. “Many women fear gray hair makes them look less attractive, but the opposite is true," she says. "Embracing it will make your skin look vibrant, your eyes look brighter, and you’ll get plenty of compliments,” Gianonni says.
Jennifer Riggs Anderson, 47, of Gilbert, AZ, spoke with The Healthy to share her journey of going gray on her terms—and her chosen timeline—while facing down expectations from the public and the people she loves.
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By Jennifer Riggs Anderson, as told to Charlotte Hilton Andersen
"I dyed my hair for 24 years straight. I'm in my forties now. Yep, do the math: I started going gray in my early twenties.
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It may have been a simple decision, but it definitely wasn't a simple thing to do—or to keep up over the years. I'm a natural brunette, and I dyed it blond. This is an even more complicated and expensive process because I had to bleach my hair before dying it. Considering how much time, money, and effort goes into maintaining dyed hair, it's safe to say I spent thousands of dollars, and more hours than I care to count, in a salon chair.
Then, five years ago, I decided I was done. By that point, my natural hair was close to 100 percent gray, which meant that with color, I needed constant root touch-ups. I was beyond tired of having to return to the salon every three weeks, and there were so many other things I wanted to spend that money on. Plus, I'm a mom of three kids—who has time for all that?
Going gray is a process, not an event
I started by letting my hair grow out naturally for a few months, but the stark difference between the dyed hair and my gray hair bothered me. So I went to a stylist and asked her to dye my hair to match my natural gray. To make the transition smoother, she took me to full gray, and then added a few highlights and lowlights of blonde and brown. The outcome was an ashy gray that she and I both thought was gorgeous.
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Best of all, I could go three months before I really even noticed that maybe it was time for another appointment. Then, I realized: Wait—if I can go three months, why not go six months? That's when I told my stylist I was committing to full gray. She gently transitioned me from the highlighted, ashy gray to my natural gray, with streaks of light brown and white.
I was receiving lots of compliments from strangers, and support from friends...but only one family member approved. My female relatives all had said that gray hair would make me look 10 years older. Some of the women in my family had sworn that they themselves would dye their own hair until the day they died. That idea? It gave me anxiety.
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My hair caused an identity crisis
So a couple of years ago, when we were planning a large family reunion, I relented. I went blond again. I got a lot of compliments from my family...but inside, I was so mad at myself for caving to the pressure. Bringing back my former look made me feel old and outdated. I wasn't a blonde anymore! Sure, I looked great when I was blond...but it felt fake. For all the years I'd done it, it had never really been me.
After a year, I decided to repeat the process of going gray again. This time, I found several groups on social media that supported going gray. I also read articles about how other women had made the transition, which helped immensely to to make me feel less alone in my decision. My hair is a short bob length, so it took about 15 months to grow all the blonde dye out. I hated how long it took...but now that it's gone, I'm in love with my hair.
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Buttercream blonde is truly that girl.As the days grow longer and the weather gets warmer, it's nearly impossible not to dream of days spent outside, soaking up the sunshine and partaking in all the fun activities to come. But of course before the season officially arrives, you may be looking for ways to switch up your look, too. And if you're like us, few things are as satisfying as adopting a bright new hair color.
I thought I was committed to my gray hair the first time around but the family reunion experience really helped me see how important this issue is to me. My hair color is part of my core self worth and personal identity. This is me—not in spite of my grays, but because of them. Whether anyone else approves or not, says more about them than me. I'm ready to stay this way forever.
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Totally gray and proud of it
I've learned that going gray is like anything important in life: you have to decide what is best for you, and then stick with your gut decision. There will be supporters. There will also be naysayers, who are loud and in your face with their opinions. It's annoying, but it's better than having to rush to the salon every time I spot a white hair coming through.
At the end of the day, I feel great about going gray. It takes less time and money and I feel like myself. I feel beautiful! Oh, and my family members have finally stopped bugging me about it. Once they realized I was really serious, they got bored and moved on.
My advice? Be strong. Be yourself. Be...bottle-free."
Sign up for The Healthy newsletter for uplifting wellness wisdom and what's buzzing in beauty, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Keep reading:
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Load up on non-starchy veggies
Face it, if you want to lose weight over the long haul, your best bet is to make sustainable, long-term lifestyle changes. But sometimes life comes at you fast and you need a fast solution. One smart lifestyle change is to eat plenty of veggies—especially for someone looking to lose weight. Vegetables are nutrient-packed and provide plenty of filling fiber with hardly any calories. Plus, non-starchy veggies have a high water content, so they hydrate you while filling you up—the perfect combination for weight loss.
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Trying this headband curler means waking up like a Disney princess. I 'm always looking for more ways to improve my hair health, so I'll definitely be using this non-heat method again, especially over uncomfy, stiff hair curlers." –Jacqueline Saguin, Associate Product & Reviews Editor Kitsch on fine, short, wavy hair © Sabina Wizemann/Good Housekeeping Sabina shows the before and after of the heatless hair curlers. Ease of use: "The rod is spongy but not flexible and keeping it steady to wrap short to mid-length hair around is awkward.
Starchy veggies (like potatoes) and processed whole grains (like whole-wheat bread) are foods I'd normally recommend eating in moderation, since they provide plenty of nutrients, fiber, and healthy carbs. However, high-carb foods aren't your best friend when you're looking to drop water weight. Essentially, when your body stores excess carbs, it stores them with water. So replacing carb-heavy foods with non-starchy veggies that still provide filling fiber without as much water retention is the way to go. For a week before your event, you can swap out the starchy carbs for more non-starchy vegetables to lose some water weight.
Aim for filling at least half of your plate with non-starchy veggies like asparagus, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, spinach, kale, cucumbers, and more. This is a great idea for everyone's health, not just people wanting to lose weight.
Swap the salt for herbs and spices
Another healthy change that will help you look better is to cut back on salt. Sodium causes your body to hold onto excess water, so eating a high-salt diet means you're likely storing more water weight than necessary. If you're in a rush to lose weight fast, cut out added salt as much as possible. That means ditching the salt shaker and avoiding processed and packaged foods, where added salt is pretty much inevitable.
Try making food from scratch rather than eating out before your big event to further limit sodium and fight bloat. Even at healthier restaurants, sodium levels tend to be through the roof.
Avoiding salt doesn't mean your food has to be bland. Experiment with using different herbs and spices. Try adding fresh cilantro and cumin to grilled fish, lemon and rosemary to chicken, or ginger and Chinese five spice to tempeh or beef. Pick up some spice blends from your local market to help add more spice to your life... just read the ingredients and make sure there's no salt added.
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Drink lots of water before meals
It seems counterintuitive to drink lots of water when you're looking to lose weight fast—especially water weight—but staying hydrated is one of the most important steps you can take to lose weight. People often mistake thirst for hunger, so staying hydrated allows you to be more in touch with the times when you are actually hungry, rather than just thirsty.
Drinking water before you eat has also been shown to lead to increased weight loss by decreasing the amount you eat at meals. It's hard for your eyes to be bigger than your stomach when you're already full from downing plenty of water! Staying hydrated also promotes good digestion, so you're less likely to end up backed up and bloated.
Keep a water bottle with you at all times and aim for drinking eight-plus cups a day. Eliminate sugary beverages like soda, juice, or sweetened coffee or tea since they're calorie bombs without much nutritional benefit. Throw in lemon slices or chopped fruit and herbs to your water to add flavor—it will encourage you to drink more!
Avoid gas-forming foods
Want to know how to lose weight fast and reduce bloating instantly? Avoid gas-forming foods leading up to your big event.
When you chew gum, you swallow more often than you would without a piece of gum in your mouth. Some of what you swallow is air, and that can get trapped, making you feel bloated. Most sugar-free gums are made with sugar alcohols, which can cause gas in some people as well.
Soda and diet soda often have gas-forming sugars or sugar alcohols—plus, they're carbonated. Those bubbles trapped in liquid can leave you feeling bloated.
Everyone's body is different when it comes to digesting some gas-forming foods, but there are a few you should be wary of: It's best to avoid beans and cruciferous veggies (think cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli) for a couple of days if you want to look slimmer. Choose lean proteins like chicken and fish or, if you're vegetarian, go for small amounts of nuts and seeds for protein. Pair with non-gassy vegetables like asparagus, spinach, and cucumber to help prevent bloat.
Make sure you're getting enough protein
Protein is key for keeping you full and satiated, even when you're eating fewer calories. Studies have shown that eating a high-protein breakfast can help you reduce caloric intake throughout the day by starting you off full and fueled.
Protein is also important for preserving muscle mass as you lose weight. If you cut back dramatically on calories and drop weight too fast, your muscles can suffer. Your body starts pulling from lean tissue like muscles and organs to fuel itself, and your metabolism slows to conserve energy. That's why super restrictive diets that have you dropping weight fast aren't healthy over the long run.
Getting enough protein every day, whether you're in a quick-fix or long-term mindset is important for keeping your muscles and metabolism healthy throughout weight loss. Make sure you're having some chicken breast, lean ground turkey, fish, seafood or tempeh that's the size of a deck of cards at every meal. When snacking, have 2 eggs, 1/4 cup of nuts, or 3/4 cup of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese to meet your protein needs and stay full and feel slim.
Get plenty of sleep
Aim to get at least seven hours of sleep each night. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Why? Ever notice how you start to crave donuts and drive-thru breakfasts when you're exhausted? When you don't get enough sleep, your hormones are thrown out of balance. Running on no sleep can actually drive up the hormones that make you want to eat, while pushing down the hormones that signal for fullness—and that's a recipe for weight gain. When you're well-rested, it's much easier to make healthy decisions and stay on track.
Keep meals lighter in the evening
Research demonstrates that eating later can actually lead to slower weight loss, while eating a larger meal at breakfast and smaller meals throughout the day can help you lose more weight! And while we're not going to tell you to restrict yourself to no food after 6 p.m, it's important to consider what time of day you struggle most with temptation.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23357955For many people, late-night fridge raids are a downfall, leading to overeating and unnecessary calories. If you wake up motivated to eat healthy, but lose steam by the end of the day and end up with a big takeout order, sidestep the problem by planning evening meals ahead of time.
If you do feel like you want to eat in the evening, ask yourself if you're really hungry or eating out of habit or boredom.
HIIT the gym
HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training, and it's a great way to build muscle without spending hours in the gym. The idea is to go all out for a short period of time, followed by a slower pace that allows you to recover. Think of jogging or sprinting all out for 30 seconds, followed by a minute or two of rest, then repeat. Short bursts of high-intensity exercises keep your heart rate up while adding lean muscle. More muscle mass equals calories burned on a daily basis. Also, the more lean muscle you have, the higher your metabolism is.
Focusing on cardio workouts like running or biking are great for your heart health, but make sure you do weight training workouts as well, to complement your muscle growth.
Call for backup
Drastic weight loss from a quick-fix diet is usually due mostly to losing water weight. At best a crash diet could help you drop a few pounds. At worst, it could leave you feeling weak and tired and make you sick.
Before you jump on the latest crash diet that promises drastic results, think twice about the impact on your physical and mental health.
For weight loss that lasts, you'll want to continue making sustainable changes long after that special event has passed. Meet with a registered dietitian to get nutrition advice that's specific to you and your goals.
The post How to Transition to Gray Hair, with Self-Assurance: “I Tried It” (Plus, Dermatologist and Stylist Tips) appeared first on The Healthy.
The 7 best women's hiking pants, leggings, and shorts for day hikes and backpacking trips .
Quality women's hiking pants should be comfortable on long hikes and repel dirt, sweat, and sun. Our top picks include shorts and plus-size options.