Crazy or Credible?
Maddie Ballard puts celeb wellbeing rituals to the test.
Words Maddie Ballard
Dear reader, proceed with caution. I began trialling these rituals sure none of them could work. But after eight weeks of all kinds of voodoo, I’ve actually found a couple I might keep. You’ve been warned – ditch your preconceptions now! Ice bath face dunk – Kate Hudson What would possess someone to put their face in a bowl of ice water first thing in the morning? All it takes, as it turns out, is a persuasive editor. Either that, or a close look at Kate Hudson’s skin, which is flawless, and apparently largely due to a daily freezing dunk. The first day I did this ritual, I gasped at the cold and inhaled a bunch of water, which is certainly an effective way to wake up. But after the third day, I started to get it. It is invigorating to wake up immediately. You do feel good afterwards. I shock myself by admitting I’d recommend it – but I do. Make sure you have a towel to dry off handy. Working out at 4.30am – Jennifer Aniston Escaping the house so as not to wake my long-suffering partner (“Do NOT do any jumping jacks”), I strolled groggily out into the dark garden and set up my workout video. I felt swimmy during the crunches and ill during the leg raises. I’m now convinced that listening to high-energy workout music before 5am is guaranteed to put you in a bad mood. But by the time I got to the jumping jacks – executed gently, on soft grass – I was starting to enjoy myself. And hoofing it up Mt Eden as a final step, to see the sunrise, was pretty nice. Still, I won’t be keeping this one in my regular rotation, because by 4pm, I was about ready to call it a day – and that’s no life for someone who, unlike Jennifer Aniston, needs to finish three articles, make dinner and put the laundry on. Daily baths – Emma Watson To be honest, this one was an indulgence. How could a daily bath not improve your happiness? Forty minutes put aside to light your favourite candle, lower yourself into delightfully warm water, break out the bath bomb you got last Christmas and read your book? I had a ball. The only challenge was finding time: I’d recommend just before bed – once the dishes are done, the kids are asleep and your partner is happily ensconced in Netflix. There’s nothing better than a bit of enforced “me” time. No wonder Emma looks so relaxed. 7+ glasses of water a day – J-Lo We all know we should be drinking more water – but who actually does? J-Lo swears hydration is the key to her age-defying look, so I figured it was worth a go. I set an alarm on my phone to drink a glass of water every hour, on the hour. I committed to two weeks. Did it make a difference? Certainly I found myself needing to pee more, naturally always at inconvenient times (middle of an interview? check; stuck on the motorway? double check). I also never remembered to drink a glass of my own accord – I was totally dependent on the alarm, which I had to explain to so many people over the two weeks, I felt a bit like a lunatic (“I’m just doing this thing where I pretend to be J-Lo”). But after a fortnight, I think I actually do feel better than usual – awake, less pimply, a tiny bit radiant. I’ll be giving up the alarms, but sticking a permanent Post-it to the top of my computer screen reminding me to drink a glass whenever I get up. Oil pulling for whiter teeth – Shailene Woodley Drawn from traditional Ayurvedic practice, oil pulling involves swishing vegetable oil around your mouth for 15-20 minutes a day, supposedly to draw out toxins, break down plaque and whiten your teeth. Like everybody, I’d love to have whiter teeth – but 15-20 minutes a day?! In the name of scientific investigation, I buckled in. I chose some coconut oil from the kitchen pantry, melted down a tablespoon, and began swirling it around my mouth. To begin with, it was quite pleasant: coconut oil tastes nice, and I was happily contemplating the pearly whites I’d soon have. But after 10 minutes, I was starting to think about jaw strain and how badly I’d like one of J-Lo’s 7+ glasses of water. As soon as the timer hit 15, I spat out the oil and rinsed my mouth with saltwater, the recommended medium to break down the icky residue left on your teeth, and swore never again. This one was Most Definitely not for me. Green monster smoothie – Victoria Beckham What do you get if you load green apple, lemon, kiwifruit, spinach, broccoli and a healthy dash of coconut water into a blender? A semidrinkable goop that, Beckham assures us, will improve your glow and perk up your mental function. The key to making a smoothie, I’ve always found, is artfully disguising the taste of all the super-healthy things in it. But it turns out it’s almost impossible to disguise the taste of raw broccoli in a drink, no matter how you adjust the ratios. Not one to be discouraged, I committed to a week – and by the time Sunday rolled around, I found, gasp, that I’d just about come round. I’d still rather eat my broccoli for dinner, but I was feeling great and had stopped snacking before lunch. What more could you ask for? Daily collagen smoothies – Sofia Vergara There’s been a lot of buzz recently about the health benefits of regular collagen smoothies: plusher skin, shinier hair, pain-free joints… the works. Keen to try it out for myself, I picked up a canister of vanilla-flavoured collagen creamer and began adding it to my morning coffee. The verdict? It tastes delicious, like a piece of birthday cake, and sweetens your coffee without adding refined sugar. But after three weeks of daily dosing, I can’t say I saw any results. I definitely didn’t look worse, but I’m not too keen on spending $40 for a box of false promises. Pass. Dry brushing – Gwyneth Paltrow What is dry brushing and why do it? Gwyneth has the answers. Rubbing a large, dry brush all over your body for a few minutes before you hop in the shower (or your Emma Watson-style bath) is supposed to boost your lymphatic system, reduce water retention and puffiness, exfoliate your skin and make you feel more energised. Surely, I thought, this is the ultimate wellbeing hogwash – coming from the queen of wellbeing hogwash. But it turns out to be strangely delightful. I bought a cheap wooden-handled brush, stripped off in the bathroom and began brushing each of my limbs “upwards towards the heart”, as Vogue recommends. In 30 seconds or less, I felt oddly soothed and buzzy all over, like I’d had a massage. This one’s joining the permanent rotation. Apple cider vinegar shots – Kourtney Kardashian Apple cider vinegar is a home remedy staple, used for centuries to treat everything from a sore throat to excess dandruff. But Kourtney Kardashian, bless her, swears by her morning shot as a weight loss aid and a skin clearer. It can’t be so bad, I thought, measuring out my first dose. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Shooting back a spoonful of vinegar first thing in the morning is a guaranteed method for digestive discomfort and a bad taste in your mouth. On one hand, I wasn’t hungry afterwards, so perhaps it really is an appetite suppressant. On the other hand, I couldn’t think of the morning without shuddering, and after five days, my skin looked much the same. Morning yoga with a candle – Felicity Jones “Morning yoga?” said my partner, when I mentioned this to him. “That sounds great, actually.” And so we found ourselves, on a bright January morning, lighting a lemongrass candle in the lounge and Googling Yoga with Adriene. We unrolled our purple mats, stretched out our sleep-stiffened joints and folded ourselves creakily into a downward dog, while beyond the window, an efficient neighbour began mowing his lawn and the neighbourhood’s teenagers began trudging to school. I can’t work out whether we enjoyed the yoga (and lemongrass) so much because we were neither doing a household chore nor going to school, or because we were enjoying the yoga, but I guess it doesn’t matter. After just a couple of days of this ritual, I was looking forward to it when I went to bed each night – and my partner had even thought to buy a couple of other candles. Mist your face with water first thing – Lizzo When I bought my first house plants, I invested in a plastic spray bottle, envisioning myself swanning through a lush indoor jungle and spritzing lightly, in a “nature’s goddess” sort of fashion. But it turns out I struggle to keep even one or two plants alive. Luckily, there’s now a second use for the spray bottle: misting my face with water when I wake up, à la Lizzo. I was prepared to find this practice a bit pointless, given I already wash my face when I get up, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. There’s something about misting your face in the cool light of morning – the delicacy of the water droplets, the light refreshment without actually getting cold, the sheer fun of operating a spray bottle – that makes this quite a fun little ritual. Plus, as Lizzo says, it’s a good way to start hydrating as soon as you wake up. Meditating and applying coconut oil to your face at night – Serena Williams With her athletic prowess and incredible work ethic, Serena Williams is someone I look up to. I’d guess her success comes down to her daily habits – so why not give two of them a go? Somehow, even though I know how much meditation benefits me, I very rarely make time for it – so it was quite an event to open up Headspace on an ordinary Monday. I plugged in my headphones, lay on the couch and took a deep, mindful breath in. Ten minutes later, I was feeling soothed and ready for sleep – but not before I’d rubbed some coconut oil, straight from my kitchen cupboard, into my pores. The verdict? I could skip the coconut oil: it took ages to absorb, lightly stained my pillowcase and left me with a minor breakout. But the meditation was a winner: I slept like a baby, and woke feeling like while an international tennis career might be beyond me, meeting my deadline might not. B12 injection – Madonna The holy grail. I’ve been told a B12 injection is a life-changer, giving you energy you didn’t even know you were capable of – and reader, the rumours are true. After a quick shot in the arm at my local pharmacy, I walked out feeling not much different. But when I woke up the next day, I felt… fantastic. I don’t know if it was because I’ve been fighting a battle with anaemia for years, or if I’d just had a particularly good sleep, but a B12 shot perked me up better than any cup of coffee I’ve ever had. Two weeks after my injection, I’m sleeping better, more focused at work, and generally full of beans. I can’t recommend it enough – although you should check with your doctor first if it’s right for you.