Source: Best Health, Jan./Feb., 2011, photo: Kathleen Finlay
Doesn’t Cora look fantastic? Since her journey with the Vichy Best Health Challenge began five months ago, she’s lost 16 pounds, become leaner and more toned, revamped her diet and learned a lot about herself‘as a woman and as a mother. ‘This has helped me get back to who I am,’ says Cora, 29.
Cora entered the Challenge as a new mom’she gave birth to daughter Beatrix in February 2010’who was feeling a little overwhelmed. Winning our whole-life makeover gave her the help she needed: a workout by personal trainer Bruce Krahn; a healthy-eating plan and guidance from registered dietitian Sue Mah and advice for finding balance from life coach and medical doctor Susan Biali. ‘Bruce taught me the importance of lifting weights to build muscle, which helps boost my metabolism. Sue taught me to keep a food journal’and convinced me to try fish! But I learned the most about myself from the life coaching sessions with Susan,’ says Cora, recalling a moment when she told Susan she sometimes felt frustrated as a new mom. ‘Susan said, ‘So, you’re supposed to manage your busy life and not get frustrated sometimes?’ It made me think how we are socialized to be super-parents who can handle anything without frustration. Susan gave me permission to feel the things I was feeling.’
The final step in Cora’s Challenge: a dream makeover at Shops at Don Mills in Toronto. She got a skincare consultation with Faouzi Berradia, medical relations and training manager for Vichy Canada, who has more than 20 years of experience in skin care; a haircut and style with Todd Dowell, senior stylist from Donato Salon + Spa; a bra fitting with the experts at lingerie store Change; and advice from fashion stylist Sandra Pittana, who has been a guest host on City TV’s Cityline for the past 20 years.
Here’s what Cora learned that day:
Advice for skin and hair
Cora had lots of questions about what her skincare routine should be at this stage of her life. ‘I have huge pores, and combination skin,’ she says. ‘I also want to know what to do about preventing wrinkles.’
Berradia told her that using a toner helps to minimize pores. ‘And when it comes to wrinkles, the number one thing we all must do’whether you already have them or are worried about getting them’is avoid sun exposure. I cannot stress enough the importance of using a moisturizer with SPF of at least 15 year-round. Even then, be careful about how much sun you get.’
As for Cora’s hair, which has naturally tight curls, she wanted tips on styling and managing it. ‘The number one trick is to use a diffuser,’ advised Dowell. Because Cora says her hair sometimes looks like a ‘pyramid”wider at the bottom than the top’he suggested she use her fingers or a wide-toothed comb before diffusing, to separate curls and give hair a more natural look. Set the diffuser on high heat and low wind to dry hair.
Another way to get more lift on top, Dowell said, is to try a zigzag part using a wide-toothed comb to separate curls. For an updo, he suggested Cora try an easy chignon: take individual pieces and fasten them above the nape of the neck with bobby pins.
When it came time for the photo shoot for this issue, Cora had her hair washed, then trimmed with long layers and blown straight.
Dressed for success
Next it was onto choosing clothes. ‘Cora is a beautiful girl, and she’s worked hard, so it’s time for her to show off her body,’ says Sandra Pittana. ‘We wanted to suggest clothes that boost her confidence.’
In her job as an independent living skills specialist with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), Cora travels to clients’ homes to help them adapt their lives, so she needs functional clothing. Sandra suggested clothes that flattered Cora’s new figure and that she could wear every day.
Cora felt some pieces Sandra picked out were ‘too nice’ to wear to work and take care of Beatrix, but Sandra reminded her to step outside her comfort zone. ‘We all have clothes we save for occasions that never come. Buy things you love, and wear them. Clothes reflect who you are and can make you feel good.‘ Sandra showed Cora that along with wearing jeans, she could be just as comfortable in grey slacks, a loose-fitting blouse and a cardigan.
Cora’s bra fitting at Change held the biggest surprise: She went down in band size, and up in cup size. Says Jenny Zucker, director of retail operations at Change Canada, a woman’s bra size will change six times in her life‘not including after a significant weight change or having a baby. ‘The band is your ‘holding shelf.’ Straps aren’t meant to hold your breasts up’that’s your band’s job.’ The bra should be snug around the torso and the band should sit in a straight line around your back. You’re wearing the wrong size if the band rides up and if you constantly have to adjust the straps.
Dressed in a sexy, electric-blue dress with silver heels and clutch with the photographer shooting away, Cora looked glamorous. As Beatrix crawled on the floor and clapped her hands, Cora told Best Health she plans on showing her daughter the stories about her whole-life makeover one day. ‘It will be nice to share these with her when she is starting to learn about health.’
Given that the past year of Cora’s life has been so significant, she says she needed to take this Challenge to be reminded to take care of herself. ‘All the literature on being a new mom says you should take care of your health, eat and get rest, but putting it into practice is another matter!’ says Cora. ‘I really appreciate being given this opportunity to participate in the Challenge. It gave me something else to think about besides the baby, and helped me get some perspective back.’
Editor’s note: Thanks to Vichy for partnering with us on our first-ever Challenge and helping Cora reach her goal! Sign up for the Best Health Challenge newsletter to keep up to date on our plans for Challenge 2011.