Look Slimmer and Age Better by Correcting This

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In the past I'd given barely any conscious thought to posture. But when it goes awry, when someone slouches or arches in a way that's uncomfortable and unflattering, it's hard not to notice.

Why am I so hung up on posture up now? I think I need to work on my own! Looking and feeling your best includes the way you present yourself, so when you schlump around you don't just lack poise and grace— you age yourself and add perceived pounds.

Here's my situation:

At the end of my pregnancy, carrying around a belly made it difficult to engage my core muscles to keep my posture in line, as I once did almost automatically. Throughout my pregnancy, my core shifted to accommodate the extra weight around my middle, and my muscles worked in very different ways. Postpartum, I'm now noticing the warning signs of awful posture cropping up- hunching forward while breastfeeding, favoring one side or the other with my son on my hip, arching my back when I'm wearing him in the carrier— and failing to engage my core pretty much all the time because it feels really out of practice! Small errors in alignment feel like they could lead to major slouching— not to mention an achy, tense back and shoulders.

And I know it's not just me. Posture is something we would all use to tune up, at least a little. Do enough back arching and, let's face it, even the most tightly toned core looks like a marshmallow gut. Beyond that, your posture speaks volumes in body language! Slouching and slumping says that you just don't care, and makes you look exhausted and older than your years. I thought you might like to give your stance some tuning-up as well, while you're doing all of that eating pretty... A little effort now will keep us looking young and fit, instead of older than our years.

Here's my must-do list to make sure my posture bounces back (note: none of these involve walking around with a book balanced on my head).

Practicing yoga.

Yoga is part of my getting-back-into-shape routine anyway, but it serves a dual purpose: toning my body and strengthening the out-of-practice muscles that support great posture. Yoga stretched feel great— and make me want to stand tall.

Engaging my core.

Throughout the day, whether I'm sitting or standing, I'm reminding myself to engage my core— a motion that feels like bringing your belly button up and in.  Another great core-tightening move is the bridge: lie down on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Lift your bottom up, tighten and hold your midsection, then lower and repeat.

Switching it up.

I won't be always using the same side to carry my baby. Same goes for toting a heavy purse, groceries, etc.— if it bends my spine to one side, I will make sure to alternate.

Stretching.

Yes, yoga helps with this as well, but I need to remember to stop and stretch throughout the day to relax tense muscles, with or without yoga class. I'll also practice bringing my shoulders back and down, which helps with correcting posture. One important area to stretch for good posture is your shoulders and neck (roll them and draw your shoulders down and back).

Getting a massage.

Saved the best for last. A little research taught me that massage can help restore my former alignment by boosting circulation and lymph drainage and relaxing muscles. Hey, I needed one anyway!

Do you consciously correct your posture to improve your appearance? What's your trick for standing tall and gracefully?

Image via nownovel.com