There’s nothing more gracious and elegant than perfect posture to make you look thinner – it can cause heads to turn just as fast as a great dress.
I was once at a fitness convention full of young, super-toned instructors leaping on and off the stage in neon leotards, but then one lady walked on stage and made the whole conference go quiet… none of us had ever seen such a striking woman, and it was all down to her posture!
She was in her late fifties, a beautiful, curvaceous size 16, and she oozed confidence from every pore and every movement she made. From her walking onto the stage to being seated was like watching a ballet.
From that day on, I have always taught my clients about posture – it not only makes us look taller, slimmer, and instantly more elegant, but also shouts out that we have more confidence than Madonna (who, incidentally, always has amazing posture).
Try these easy tricks and feel yourself become instantly taller and slimmer!
Time to belt up
One of the most important muscles that’s responsible for giving us perfect posture is called the transverse abdominis – a large, fibrous band that wraps around our middle and is often referred to as our ‘core’.
This muscle acts like a corset, and the stronger it is, the better posture you will have (plus, the flatter your abs are). A great way to strengthen this muscle is by using a piece of string…
All you have to do is stand tall and with good posture, then pull in your tummy muscles really tight. Now tie a piece of string around your waist, keeping your tummy pulled in – as soon as you relax your tummy muscles, the string will feel tight, so it prompts you to pull back in.
This is a good drill to do every day, and you need to spend only a couple of minutes doing this. It’s great to have a go when you’re chopping vegetables or cooking in the kitchen, as you can be toning your abs at the very same time.
Declutter your handbag
Every time you sling your handbag over your shoulder, you could be sabotaging your posture – the heavier your bag is, the more weight you’re applying to one side of your body, which will have an effect on your posture.
If you must carry a heavy load, then a backpack is the optimum choice, or decant into two bags and carry one either side of your body.
Get up every 20 minutes…
Even if it’s just to get some water, stretch, or walk around – this will help you limber-up and prevent slouching. When we sit for long periods, we apply more compression to our spine, and our shoulders can become rounded. Try setting a reminder on your phone.
Be a tilt girl
Tight hip flexors can result in poor posture. Hip flexors are the muscles situated at the front of your hips, and when we sit for long periods, these can become tight and pull on our pelvis. Try doing daily pelvic tilts:
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, with your arms by your sides and palms facing down.
Keep your spine in neutral – in line with your hips and shoulders, and not arched.
Take a big breath in through your nose and gently exhale through your mouth as you pull your navel toward your spine, tilting your pelvis so your pubic bone lifts and you lower your back to the floor. Hold for a few seconds; return to the start. Repeat 10 times.
Stretch to the stars
Re-engage your posture first thing in the orning to quickly readjust your muscles and pull everything back into place:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, with your arms by your sides.
- Imagine you have a piece of string attached to the top of your head pulling you up to the ceiling, so you lift your entire body, making it as tall as possible; but keep your feet firmly placed on the floor.
- Keep your tummy muscles pulled in tight and take a deep breath in; as you inhale, raise your arms directly above your head and gently clasp your hands, then slightly bend your upper body to the right, hold for a couple of seconds and return to the other side, while breathing deeply in and out.
- Just be sure not to lean forwards or backwards. Repeat these alternating side-stretches 10 times every morning.
Love your bones
Lunges help strengthen bones – the scaffolding to keep your body straight.
- Stand in a stance slightly wider than shoulder-width apart; place your hands on hips, with shoulders pulled back, and your chest lifted.
- Step forwards into a lunge. Don’t let your front knee go over the line of your toes; the knee of your back leg should point to the ground, with your upper body straight.
- Hold for 20 seconds, then lunge forwards on the other leg. Rest for 10 seconds; repeat this several times.
Practice the ‘Fallen Angel Lift’
This exercise is a particular lifesaver if you’ve been stuck in front of a computer all day. Aim to do 10 of these every day to help realign your upper body:
- Lie face down on a mat and extend your arms out to either side, aiming to have your hands in line with your shoulders, and with your palms facing forwards and your thumbs pointing up to the ceiling.
- Now lift both arms up high and out to your sides by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold, and then slowly lower back down to your start position.
Feel the freeze
Grab a Post-it note, write ‘ice cube’ on it, then stick it on the side of your computer screen as a visual prompt:
- Sitting nice and tall, with your feet flat on the floor, visualise that someone has just dropped an ice cube down your back – this will instantly realign your spine and naturally pull you into the correct upright posture; you should aim to always maintain this position. As we’re distracted by the phone or e-mails, we end up curving through our spine and rounding our shoulders. That’s why these notes work.
Keep your head lifted, chin parallel to the ground, shoulders pulled back, tummy pulled in – you’ll instantly look lighter