CLEAR THE AIR
You can’t escape it, but you can fight back – here’s how to pollution-proof your skin
tell me to put down the banana bread, move my butt and reclaim my health.
Perhaps people thought I was too tired to hear the truth, or it was un-feminist to deliver the news, or simply assumed that I should be happy in my own body. After all, I had spent nearly a decade on TV working at Nine News and A Current Affair. In all those years, I never felt any pressure to look a certain way.
And I actively encourage women not to bow to society’s ridiculous pressures, either. So I want to make it clear this had nothing to do with self-worth or self-love. Nothing to do with dropping a dress size or earning approval. It went no deeper than wanting to feel stronger and lighter – physically and metaphorically.
I made up my own wellness project and it had two simple rules. First: no food from shiny packets. Biscuits, chips, ice-creams… really, it’s a basic, everyday guideline for anyone trying to stay on top of their health. And how easy it can be to forget (or flout) it. Second: break a sweat, every single day.
Since embarking on my mission, I’ve dropped 13 kilos and I am fitter than I have been in years. It took longer than I thought my patience could cope with; it required painful, unwavering focus. I have given birth to four children, with no drugs. That was nothing. This is the hardest thing I have ever done. It sucked.
For starters, I live with four people who are under the age of seven. Small people snack all the time. It’s all they do! As a snack-a-holic, I spent months saying no to sweets. It was hellish. I also cut out wine. (Are you still even reading?) My husband bought one million limes and a Sodastream to make water exciting. Every day presented new challenges. I wasn’t just willing myself to maintain a healthy life – I was (re)creating one.
I decided to post about the work I’d undertaken on Instagram. In response, so many women simply asked: “How?” The truth is, none of my “tricks” were extraordinary. They were actually super ordinary. For instance, it is all well and good to crunch abs – but you also have to crunch the numbers. Once a week, I forced myself to step on the scale. It was old-fashioned and confronting, but it kept me honest.
So did writing everything down. If I ate one of my kids’ muesli bars at 3pm, I confessed it into the diary. Two dinners and a block of chocolate before bed? It happened, and I owned up to it. This was less about shame and more about sharing. I needed to get these things off my chest, even if only to myself.
As for physical activity, walking to and from school pick-up was a hopeless endeavour. I had to sweat, and puff, and even lose my breath. I kicked things off at the park with a bunch of school parents. One of the dads rescued my fitness with a quasi boot camp at the local oval. Soon, a group of three or four grew to almost 15. It seemed I was not the only one keen to rediscover my health.
So a year after that race on the beach served as the wake-up call I needed, I have learnt to look after my body and, in turn, my soul – and now I know I can do both while also looking after my family.
With a little tough love and some bloody hard work, my mind feels clearer and my body is stronger. In fact, not long ago I commissioned a new race with my son. Did I win? Who cares? Certainly not me. As far as victories go, I’ve achieved a better one. Finally, I’ve found myself again.
“This had nothing to do with self-worth or dropping a dress size”
We know pollution is harmful to our health, but we’re only now learning how it damages our complexions, too. “In big cities, over 80 per cent of people are exposed to air pollution levels – [from] air conditioning and road and air traffic – that exceed limits set by the World Health Organization,” says Trilogy’s in-house beauty expert Corinne Morley. “And as much as 70 per cent of ageing is believed to be caused through over-exposure to UV light and indoor and outdoor air pollution.”
All these pollutants deprive skin cells of oxygen and encourage the formation of free radicals, which are responsible for collagen and elastin fibre degradation, and increased sensitivity and dullness. So a strong skin barrier is your first line of defence. As Morley points out, “Sensitive, stressed and dehydrated skin has a weakened skin barrier, which allows moisture to escape and pollutants in.”
Antioxidants are also important, as they bind to free radicals and prevent them from attaching to healthy skin cells. Apply a serum or oil before heading out in the morning, and remember the basics: always cleanse at night, even if you’re not wearing make-up and, adds Morley, “never leave the house without sunscreen.”
(clockwise from top left) GOOD In her quest FORM for better health, Warren is committed to breaking a daily sweat; the reporter at work at the Nine News desk; the gruelling process has taught Warren she can look after herself – and her family.