You can’t es­cape it, but you can fight back – here’s how to pol­lu­tion-proof your skin

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Cover -

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.

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