DIY Nail Art: 3 Stunning Designs You’ll Love

Nail art is all the rage right now, and I think it's here to stay. The good news is that there are endless possibilities. Here are three nail polish designs that you can DIY at home with easy-to-find supplies.

1. Artistic

This look is made with plastic wrap. Paint nails a color of your choice and allow to dry thoroughly. I used a blue polish with a foil/metallic finish because I love combining textures.

Once this is dry)

You could stop here but I chose to let that dry and added one more layer. The last polish I used is a bright blue creme.

Paint only one nail at a time so you can dab each when it’s still wet to achieve the desired look.

2. Pinwheel Effect

The second look is a simple pinwheel effect using painters tape. I started with a foil/metallic finish copper shade and let it dry completely. Then I cut out triangle shapes and applied them to the nail.

Paint in the open spaces one nail at a time. Peel off the tape pieces before the second shade dries for clean lines.

Tape can be used to create an endless supply of nail art looks.

3. Spray Paint


To do this, find an empty hair product bottle at home (you can use the travel-size hair spray bottles you find at a drugstore for this look), clean it out and let dry. Then  pour in enough black polish (the inexpensive kind) to reach the end of the spray tube. Mix in some nail polish thinner (not nail polish remover) a little bit at a time, and give it a good shake until it’s thinned out enough to spray easily out of the bottle.

A word of caution before you start: This is a messy process! I recommend covering your workspace with old newspaper and covering your hands with tape (you can peel off after) or petroleum jelly (wipe off after) to ease the clean-up.


The Surprising New Way to Stay Fit -- Without Exercise

If getting fit is one of your new year’s resolutions, there’s good news: It’s easier than you think to do it. 

A stack of new research shows that you don’t need to spend hours at the gym at an “I’m-killing-myself” pace to stay in tip-top shape. Mini bursts of moderate activity may actually be a more effective way to lose weight or stay in tip-top shape.

That’s NEAT! We don’t mean “neat” as in cool, but NEAT as in “non-exercise activity thermogenesis.” NEAT is scientific shorthand for everyday movements, like standing, bending, walking, toe-tapping, washing dishes, folding laundry. Basically, it’s any physical movement, or calorie burning, other than exercise.

How NEAT Works

Dr. James Levine, a Mayo Clinic researcher is one of the world’s leading proponents of NEAT and the author of the book Move a Little, Lose a Lot: New Neat Science Reveals How to Be Thinner, Happier and Smarter. Levine says that the average person can burn an extra 350 calories a day -- enough to drop 3 pounds a month -- just by adding little spurts of activity into their daily life. Everything counts, like taking a 30-minute walk at lunch, pacing while you’re on the phone, marching in place for a few minutes while watching TV, standing as you text, running around the yard with your dog. Doing anything, in other words, but sitting.

“If a person just gets off her bottom and stands up,” says Levine, “so much muscle activity is involved that your metabolism spikes immediately.” Avoiding long stretches of inactivity has many other health benefits, too, from improving your mood to improving your cholesterol.

Why 'Easy' Exercise Is Actually Your Best Bet
Consider this: Intense exercise can actual backfire when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight and healthy habits. In a recent study, a team of Danish researchers found that participants who worked out at a moderate intensity for 30 minutes a day actually lost more pounds that those who exercised vigorously for 60 minutes a day. In 13 weeks, the heavy-duty exercisers dropped 5 pounds; the take-it-easy exercisers lost 7 pounds with half the exertion. 

Mark Blegen, Ph.D., an exercise researcher in St. Paul, Minn., says that’s likely because the intense exercisers felt they had a free pass to eat whatever they wanted and turn into couch potatoes for the rest of the day. The people who worked out for half a time, on the other hand, kept moving and watched their diet. “When you’ve worked out for only 30 minutes, you tell yourself, consciously or not, I’m going to make an effort to do more throughout the day,” says Blegen.

Get Started With NEAT Today
If you’re serious about boosting your NEAT, an activity monitor can help you track your movements and inspire you to take an extra walk around the block or choose the stairs over the elevator. Look for one that measures not just steps, but overall physical activity. And, remember, less really may be more when it comes to the most effective way to stay in shape!

Detox Light

Starlets dish about grapefruit juice fasts, but experts say such practices are unnecessary -- and even damaging. “If you get no calories, no protein and nearly no vitamins, you put your body in a stressful situation, and your metabolism is altered,” says Dr. Nicole Kafka, a New York-based colon and rectal surgeon. “Instead of weight loss and detox, you get a reversal -- your body slows down and holds onto fat and everything else.”

What you really want, experts say, is to give your body a vacation from stress pileup. “Most of us don’t treat our bodies very well. We’re just go-go-go,” says Dr. Erika Schwartz, a New York-based specialist in menopause and hormones. The new detox “light” is about giving our body a deep dose of the nutritional and physical relief it craves. Discovering what it feels like to follow a healthier regime just might inspire you to make some long-term changes.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to a better detox.

Cleanse the Liver
Our bodies carry a load of petrochemical and industrial toxins that we absorb from the environment, such as allergens from food, plants and mold, and internal toxins like bacteria, fungus and yeast, says Dr. Mark Hyman, a medical consultant and author of Ultrametabolism. “Our livers have a very effective system for removing garbage from the body, so what you want to do is help the liver along,” he says. The simplest way to do this: a diet of wholesome, unprocessed foods.  

Dr. David Simon, a neurologist and the co-founder of the Carlsbad, Calif., Chopra Center, which advocates an Ayurvedic style of detoxification that originated in India, suggests temporarily bidding goodbye to sugar, wheat gluten, milk products and meat. Eat lots of green leafy vegetables and fresh fruits, which provide the antioxidants and other nutrients the liver needs to clear toxins from the body. “Simplify your diet to cooked vegetables and rice as much as possible and eat only the healthiest, most easily digested foods.”

Cut out Stimulants
If skipping your morning cup of java is going to give you a blinding headache, then taper off gradually. But it’s a good idea to cut down on caffeine, alcohol and nicotine as much as possible, says Dr. Jay Sloop, a Yakima, Wash.-based physician who practices detox himself. “Too much caffeine or alcohol can actually cause harm to memory and sleep patterns,” says Sloop. “Eliminating them from the system goes a long way in helping your body function effectively and resume a normal sleep-wake cycle without artificial highs and lows.” A temporary break is a great way to give your body a breather.

Drink Water
Eight to 10 glasses of water or other fluids a day during your detox is key to the “flushing” effects of this process, says Sloop. Focus on drinking water at the beginning of the day and between meals rather than with them. “When it comes to flushing out toxins, the least effective time to drink water is when the stomach is already full,” says Sloop. If too much water bores you to tears, you can add lemon or ginger -- which is an Ayurvedic cleansing technique -- or dilute fruit juice with water to avoid the high-sugar content of juice alone. Vegetable juice (as long as it’s low-sodium) is always beneficial, and green tea is useful for weaning yourself off coffee while adding antioxidants.

Feed Your Body “Alkaline” Foods
Waste products from exposure to toxins “acidifiy” our bodies, according to nutritional experts like Dr. Cheryle Hart, an obstetrician and gynecologist, and a co-author of The Feel Good Diet. “This acidity ultimately causes disease and premature aging,” she says. For the most effective detox, Hart recommends following the 80/20 rule -- making your diet 80 percent alkalinizing foods and beverages, such as fruits, veggies and nuts, and 20 percent acid-forming foods, such as meat and white sugar. An easy start is to substitute acid-forming black tea and soft drinks with alkalinizing ginseng, mint and raspberry teas.

Take Breaks 
“If following a detoxification regimen stops you from eating junk and cleanses your system, it's good even if you only do it for 24 hours,” says Schwartz. The optimal period for a detox, experts say, is three to seven days.

Stay Stress-free
“When our minds and bodies are stressed, there’s a direct physiological impact on our bodies that causes us to experience symptoms like fatigue, anxiety, pain, insomnia and bloating,” says Dr. Julie Taw, an internist and the director of The Center for Integrative Healing at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in New Jersey. Taw suggests complementing physical detoxification with relaxation exercises like deep breathing, yoga and meditation so your mind feels as clear and clean as your body.


Survive the Holidays -- Without Gaining Weight!

We all know what party season means to our waistlines. By the time New Year’s rolls around, we’re likely to find our favorite jeans a little snug and feel guilty about skipping the gym three weeks in a row.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can have your cake and eat it too. And by that, we mean you can join in the festivities and welcome 2013 feeling slim and healthy. 

On average, women gain an extra pound to two pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, says Dr. Joy Dubost, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “That may not sound like a lot,” Dubost says, “but those pounds tend to stay on the rest of the year.” 

What’s more, start the new year feeling sluggish and stuffed, and you’ll find it more difficult to keep all your well-meaning fitness resolutions. Instead, follow these simple do’s and don’ts from Dubost to survive the holiday season with your weight and well-being intact.

1. Don’t skip meals.
If you have a party in the evening, you may think you’ll save calories by going without breakfast or lunch. But this strategy backfires: “It sets you up to overeat,” Dubost says. “Once you have all that delicious food, especially desserts, in front of you and you’re ravenous, you won’t have any self-control.”

A better plan is to have a filling, high-fiber breakfast of oatmeal with fruit, half a bagel with peanut butter or low-fat Greek yogurt with berries, and a lunch that’s smaller than you typically eat. “Cut your normal portions in half,” Dubost suggests. “Eat only half a sandwich or instead of pouring dressing over the salad, have the dressing on the side and just dip the tines of your fork in with each bite of salad.”

2. Don’t drink your calories. 
Those sodas, fruit drinks and creamy cocktails (like eggnog) add up fast. And studies show, says Dubost, that we don’t compensate for liquid calories by eating less. Opt for low-calorie beverages, like sparking water or wine spritzers.

3. Do pace yourself. 
When you’re sitting around a dinner table for a few hours with friends, you’ll likely keep eating as long as everyone else is. Second portions are fine, says Dubost, but that doesn’t have to mean doubling the amount you normally eat. When food is served family style, scoop out half as much high-calorie food like mashed potatoes as you’d typically take. Then, go back for another half portion for your second serving. You get a free pass on fruit and veggies that are steamed, grilled, roasted or raw. Take as much of this fresh fare as you’d like.

4. Do sit far away from the fattening stuff.  
If the cheese and crackers or chocolate brownies are within arm’s reach, there’s a good chance you’ll keep reaching for them. So step away from the buffet or dessert bar, and find a seat next to the crudites or roaring fireplace. 

5. Do eat off other people’s plates.
When it comes to sweets, share a slice of pie or a hunk of cake with your sweetie or best friend. This is a trick that Dubost follows herself. “I usually take a bite of other people’s desserts,” she says. “I get my taste that way without gulping down more than I really need to feel satisfied.”

6. Do build movement into your day.
You might not be able to make it to your yoga class or regular gym sessions, but that doesn’t mean you need to turn into a couch potato from late November to early January. Small bouts of movement can be just as healthy as an hourlong workout, studies show. Start your day with a 15-minute walk, pace the airline terminal while you’re waiting for your plane to take off, park farther away from the mall, take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.

“Don’t sit for more than an hour at a time,” says Dubost, “even if that means just standing up and walking around the house for a few minutes.” Better yet, start a new holiday tradition that includes ice skating, building a snowman or post-dinner strolls around the neighborhood.

6 Wardrobe Essentials for This Winter

Want to feel stylish and sexy every day this winter? Just update your closet with a few key pieces.

As a style expert and consultant, I help my clients make sure that they hit all of the season’s important looks without having to invest in a whole new wardrobe. Here are the six style essentials for fall and winter.

1. Sheath Dress
Store your trapeze dresses and your flowing frocks and move on to the sheath dress. This form-fitting classic that made Audrey Hepburn a fashion icon in the sixties is the perfect LBD (little black dress) to wear to a cocktail party. You can also find office-ready sheaths in prints and textures at stores like J. Crew and Zara.

2. Menswear
Be a bit boyish with this season’s menswear-inspired pieces, and you’ll feel absolutely feminine. Try graphic print blouses and slip-on loafer pumps for the office. Club Monaco’s shrunken tuxedo jacket and cigarette slim black pants are a modern take on nighttime sexy.

3. Paisley
Paisley is the print of the moment, especially in rich burgundy red, Prussian blue or cognac auburn. This Indian inspired swirl of curly shapes is showing up on pants, tops and dresses. Not sure this lacey motif is for you? Test-drive a paisley top or scarf from inexpensive retailers like H&M or Forever 21.

4. Peplum
As I tell my clients, this structured cut imparts “instant va-va voom.” The fitted torso, slim waist and strategic flare give you curves right where you want them. You can find silhouette-enhancing peplum in body-hugging dresses, button-down blouses, sexy corsets and flirty dresses on the racks of your favorite boutique or department store.

5. Sparkly Tank

To stand out in the crowd, slip into a sequin or metallic tank top. If you don’t already have a favorite or two in your closet, you can find them in every shape and color imaginable at retailers like Express and Topshop. Pair one with a pencil skirt for a dressed-up look. Or dress down the glitter with a cardigan and flats.

6. Booties

Over-the-knee boots have definitely fallen overboard, so go ahead and store them for now. Instead, slip on a sexy pair of nude, taupe or gray ankle booties. They work with everything -- from leggings to glam dresses -- in your fall and winter wardrobe. You get bonus fashionista points if your booties have an open toe!

Photo: Corbis Images