508 IDEAL HOME LIFE
taken into the stomach. Plain, nutritious food is best, and a diet composed more largely of vegetables than meats will be found the most effective cooperating agent in producing what you desire. The use of coffee, tea, candies, pastries, and all forms of stimulants should be avoided. At your ordinary breakfast hour, a cup of cocoa, fruit, and a little toast should suffice. Eat your principal meal at noon. All the vegetables you desire, some whole grain bread, a little soup if you wish it, cocoa or milk, eggs, roast fowl, or beef, and a plain pudding for dessert, should furnish the articles of your menu. Supper should not be eaten later than seven o'clock, and should consist of vegetables, bread, butter, and stewed fruits.
Every woman should make it a point to take a walk of not less than a mile each day in the open air.
Exercise should be taken immediately after rising, and just before retiring, and with as little hampering clothing as the surroundings will permit. After exercise the skin should be brushed briskly with a flesh brush, and sponged off with tepid water.
In the following pages, when reference is made to "flexed" muscles, the pupil should understand that this is a condition of partial contraction, as much as can be produced by merely fixing the mind on it and forcing the muscular tissues to harden. To flex the muscles of the arms and shoulders, close the hands tightly and imagine you are holding a rather difficult weight. If standing, rise to full height, and exert such effort as would be required in sustaining a heavy weight.
After going through any particular exercise the required number of times, as specified in the following instructions, the muscles should be allowed to relax completely, or become soft and flaccid. Unless this is practiced quite as carefully as the movements themselves, the very best results cannot be obtained. The contractions produced in muscular tissue by using them, tend to force out the blood and other liquids from the fine capillary vessels which lie all through the system; and when the tissue is relaxed it permits a new supply of fresh, nutritious blood to flow in, bringing new life and energy to the cells of the muscular system.