Principal ballet dancer Sonia Rodriguez depends on her body for support, whether she's rehearsing in the studio, performing onstage or playing with her kids. She shares her best advice for staying strong and healthy.
Maintain your muscles
As a dancer, Sonia needs strong muscles to perform challenging jumps, control her body during choreographed balances and support herself through all those pirouettes. And every woman needs strong muscles to protect our joints, fire up our metabolism and carry out daily tasks—but we naturally lose muscle as we age, so strength-training exercises (which use free weights, machines or a person's own body weight to develop muscle strength) are essential for maintenance. When Sonia is short on time, she pares her usual morning workout down to a plank, which works the core (key for good posture and balance) as well as the upper body and legs.
Keep your fitness goals small and achievable
Ballerinas spend hours a day working on their form and striving for perfection, but Sonia knows that perfection is achieved one detail at a time. "You can't improve everything at once; it's impossible," she says. "Look at small goals. That's how you make improvements." For Sonia, that might mean spending one rehearsal day focusing just on maintaining a strong supporting leg. For the rest of us, it might mean concentrating on proper breathing during yoga or engaging our core during strength training.
Strategize your snacking
Sonia fuels her workouts with balanced snacks. "I get very cranky and can't focus if I don't have snacks throughout the day," she says. The best way to avoid feeling "hangry" is to eat fibre- and protein-rich foods such as nuts, edamame or veggies and hummus, which are more satiating than simple carbs, and to prepare snacks to have on hand so you can eat before hunger interferes with your energy levels.
Stretch it out
The poses ballerinas are known for are achievable by only the most flexible athletes. Still, having a degree of flexibility is important for all of us; it will improve posture and reduce the risk of injury. The best time to do your stretches? After a workout. "Your muscles are warmed up, so you get more benefit out of the stretch and there's less chance of hurting yourself," says Sonia.
Try Sonia's one-legged plank: Starting on your knees, lower yourself onto your forearms and extend both legs behind you, planting your toes on the ground for support. With your shoulders over your elbows, your torso flat and your legs straight, lift one foot; hold the pose for as long as you can. Repeat with the opposite leg. Lifting one leg increases the difficulty by forcing your muscles to support more of your body weight.
We know that cleaning out your beauty kit can feel like a chore, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming thanks to our quick and dirty guide to de-cluttering.
When to toss old product
You have to let go of the old to make room for the new—and there are new products being released every day. Remember that beauty products do expire, especially the liquid ones like foundation, mascara, and skin-care. There should be a guideline on the packaging (it will look like a cream jar with a number on it—that number is the amount of months after opening that the product is good for), but if you can’t find it or don’t remember when you opened it, here are a couple of things to look out for.
Look for changes in consistency. Lumpy formulas or a separation of oil and pigment are red flags. If the smell resembles something rotting or the colour has darkened or oxidized in the bottle, it’s time to throw the product out.
If there’s a bad odour when you open the lid or the product is crumbling and breaking apart, you probably shouldn’t use it. Also, if you constantly have to scrape off a top layer of grime, throw it out.
If you detect a bad odour or if your lipstick is drying out or applying patchy, toss it. If your lip gloss is goopy and coming out in lumps, you don’t want to put that on your lips.
Quick tip: If you live in a warm climate, it's a good idea to keep your skin-care products in the fridge to preserve freshness.
There are times when you find yourself not using certain products because they’re stored in the backs of your cabinets or drawers. Out of sight is out of mind so get those products back in sight. Try pulling them out the night before and keep them on your vanity or dresser so you can remember to add the items to your rotation.
When to give away perfectly good product
If you’ve got products that are as good as new but you don’t find yourself using them, take a moment and ask yourself: Why did I buy this product? Why did I stop using it? Can I add this to my makeup routine or skin-care regimen?
Chances are if you haven’t used it yet, you probably won’t. Perhaps pass it along to a family member or a friend who might get better use out of it. Or even take a box full of your unused items to a women’s shelter. If you are going to donate, make sure your items are in clean and sanitary condition.
How to sanitize your beauty products:
For powder compacts, wipe the powder with a piece of Kleenex to remove the top layer. Then, take a new piece of Kleenex—fold it or cut it down to the right size—and place over the powder to avoid bacteria from getting into the fresh layer. If you threw out the box, seal with tape; no one but the new owner should be opening it. This works for face powders, blushes and eyeshadows.
For lipstick, lipgloss and other stick products, wipe them down with a piece of Kleenex sprayed with the cosmetic disinfectant. Once again, seal boxes or the products themselves with tape.
Always use a mini spatula for products that are in jars so you’re not dipping your fingers in there. Also, don’t throw away the plastic divider that covers the cream. When you want to give it away, all you have to do is seal the outside with tape.
Cosmetic sanitizers can be found at most beauty stores and makeup artistry stores. Always keep a sanitizer and a brush cleaner on hand.
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Photography by Davina Choy Credits: Photography by Davina Choy
On those cold, wintry days when you need something warm around your face, grab your knitting needles, hibernate for a weekend and knit up The Stone and Arrow Winter Set. Designed in bulky yarn, The Arrow Headband and The Stone Scarf come together in a snap. And with simple repeating patterns, they're perfect for confident beginners looking to expand their knitting skills.
The Stone Scarf got its name from its 3D texture, created by alternating knits and purls, that resembles a stonewall. The quirky stone-like bumps are tempered by a garter-stitch border and a slipped selvedge for a tidy edge.
• 2 balls (each 150 g/225 m) Schachenmayr SMC Tweed Montage* in Dusty Ranch (actual amount used for scarf: approx. 322 m)
• 1 7-mm knitting needle
*If you are having difficulty finding the Schachenmayr SMC Tweed yarn, try Noro Obi or Noro Kama. Both are available online and can be shipped to Canada. Both give very similar stitch gauge and have a nice gradual colour change.
Lana Gross Medio is also very close in colour. This yarn can also be purchased online, but be advised that the shipping costs may be hefty. Lana Gross Medio is thinner than what the pattern calls for, so if you decide to use this yarn you should cast on 34 sts instead of 24, and follow the pattern exactly as it’s written. The width will be roughly the same.
14 sts/25 rows = 10 cm/4 inches in Basket Welt Stitch
Basket Welt Stitch:
Rows 1 and 2: Sl1, k1 *p5, k5* repeat to last 2 sts, k2.
Row 3: Sl1, knit all stitches to end of row.
Rows 4 and 5: Sl1, k1 *k5, p5* repeat to last 2 sts, k2.
Row 6: Sl1, k1, purl to last 2 sts, k2.
Repeat Rows 1 to 6 for pattern stitch.
Width: 17 cm/6.8 inches
Length: 203 cm/80 inches
CO = cast on
k = knit
p = purl
sl = slip
st(s) = stitch(es)
* * = repeat instructions between * and * the number of times indicated
CO 24 sts.
Knit 8 rows in garter stitch, slipping first stitch at beginning of every row.
Row 9: K2, p all stitches to last 2 sts, k2.
Repeat Rows 1 to 6 of Basket Welt Pattern Stitch until scarf measures 198 cm/78 inches.
Knit Rows 1 to 3 of Basket Welt Pattern.
Knit 7 rows in garter stitch, slipping first stitch at the beginning of every row.
Cast off all stitches and weave in loose ends.
Keep your ears warm and toasty by knitting this stylish winter headband.
Looking for knitting tips? Check out Sheep & Stitch’s guide on how to knit.
Getty Images Credits: Getty Images