The Vanderpump Rules H.I.I.T. (High Intensity Interval Training) Workout. So waist-whittling!

Jax and Stassi in happier times. Sniff sniff...

Jax and Stassi in much happier times. Sniff sniff…

I have a new Tuesday morning routine and…

It.

Is.

Genius.

Here’s how it unfolds:

1. I march the Wee Lass to school.

(We always march. Always. Unless it’s full-on raining. Or the heavens are threatening to unleash an ungodly amount of thunder and lightning upon us. Then, and only then, we take the car.)

2. I march back home, quickly, and start converting our family room into my own personal gym. I shove this out of the way. I shove that out of the way. I basically clear the runway for the activity to come.

3. I suit up: Running shorts, sports bra, socks, sneaks. No shirt. Oooh, racy.

4. I rummage through my closet for my trusty Tanita jump-rope with the built-in rep counter. I’m on my second one of these, which shows you how much I love it. It counts calories, too, btw. But if you want to depress yourself, jump rope for like a solid hour and then check the calorie counter. If you’re lucky, you’ve burnt maybe one bite of that super-scary strawberry-frosted Pop Tart you wolfed down for breakfast. I focus on reps, not sad  depressing measly weaselly calorie counts.

5. I shut the door – firmly – on our home office, so as not to disturb dear Hubby, who is jack-hammering away in there on all manner of Important Matters.

6. I queue up my DVRd episode of that week’s Vanderpump Rules.

7. I get down to bidness.

Clap your hands if you saw that piece in the New York Times last week about the health benefits of working your ass off for one teensy weensy minute.

Although I didn’t actually read it – don’t fret; I read a gazillion stories in the NYT on a weekly, daily, hourly basis – I didn’t have to because I knew, immediately, what it was about:

H.I.I.T. (High Intensity Interval Training)

The Momover Lady, easy-to-wrap-your-brain-around definition of HIIT is…you speed up, you slow down, you speed up, you slow down.

During the speeding-up part of the plan – which lasts for a very short period of time, like the one minute the NYT is yakking about here – you seriously exert yourself. You go all out. You push yourself as hard as if you had some big-bucks personal trainer barking in your poor ear, relentlessly.

This speeding up and slowing down jazz is markedly more effective at moving the needle on your fitness level. Hugely more effective.

Is it fun to work so hard you’re afraid you’re about to hurl into the potted palms? Not in the slightest. But is it worth it? COMPLETELY.

So how did I develop the destined-to-be-classic ‘Vanderpump Rules HIIT Workout’?

SIDEBAR: Trademarking that right now. Vanderpump Rules HIIT Workout™. You are my witnesses.   

As my beloved Lisa Vanderpump would say, I just got bloody sick and tired of missing crucial plot points and dialogue because of the infernal racket caused by trusty Tanita jump rope, and the thwack thwack thwack of my Nike Free 5.0 Flash sneaks hitting the hurricane-friendly laminate flooring in our lovely FLA home.

I don’t care how much I want a thigh gap (I really, really, reallllly want a thigh gap), when Kristen is making a complete and utter jackass out of herself by going over to Sandoval’s apartment “to get her mail” – six months after he kicked her bony behind to the curb because – hello - she had sex with both foxy Jax and icky James behind his back – I. NEED. TO. HEAR. ALL. THAT.

And I kinda can’t HEAR. ALL. THAT. when I’m thwack thwack thwacking against the hurricane-friendly laminate flooring in my lovely FLA home.

So, because I’m actually secretly super smart, I devised a plan that will both deliver a thigh gap and allow me to focus my full attention when shit starts to get real on VP: During the commercial breaks, I work out like a banshee, jump jump jumping, thwack thwack thwacking. Those commercial breaks are waaaay more than a minute, which is even better for waist-whittling, arm-chiseling and tush-tightening. I don’t know exactly why jumping rope is such an awesome all-over body toner, but trust me, it is.

And when the commercial break is over, and the plot picks back up, I slow down to a much more leisurely thwack thwack thwacking.

And if something maje happens, like if Stassi is going into full-on bitch mode because everyone around her won’t bend to her will, I literally stop in my tracks so I can focus.

For me, the Vanderpump Rules HIIT Workout™ is the best of both worlds: Thigh gap plus Kristen and Sandoval and Jax and Stassi – and even icky James – unfiltered.

Share

Sleep your way skinny. A double delight. A win-win.

Dive in and get your thigh-gap on.

Dive in and get your flat abs and thigh-gap on.

Yes, I know; I’ve been MIA again. But at least my paying clients can take comfort in the knowledge that when I have deadlines to meet, I. Basically. Do. Not. Blog.

Blogging is my fun little hobby, not my fun little jobby.

While you lovely Momoverettes and I were parted, I was of course obsessed with the size of my ass and every other body part that surrounds it. (I.e., my belly and thighs). When am I not obsessed with the size of my ass, belly and thighs? Never. Never is when I’m not obsessed with the size of my ass, belly and thighs.

But here’s what’s actually cool since we last electronically met: I have seriously cooled it on the gluten front.

In my last post, on the topic of Metabolic Syndrome, I bemoaned the fact that I recently spent a Saturday afternoon feeling major-league shitty. And after doing a little nutritional detective work, I determined that the cause of that plunge in well-being might have been my rawther excessive intake of gluten-packed prods like bread and craft beer.

Awww…beer. Faithful readers might recall that, since moving to FLA, I’ve developed quite the crush on a local-fave brew called Kona Big Wave Golden Ale. It’s incredibly yummy – crisp and almost lemony – and has the cutest illustration of frothy waves on the label. But hello? Gluten in a bottle.

Anyway, since I can already sense this blog post getting away from me, I’ll sum up the anti-gluten chatter and segue-way to sleep, and its ability to help us stay slim.

In short, I don’t know that I’ve lost any actual weight since kicking bread and other wheat-(and therefore gluten)-based foodstuffs to the curb in the last 10+ days. But I do notice a slight de-puffing in the ab area. Gluten is notoriously hard to digest – one of the key reasons it’s been linked to ‘leaky gut syndrome’ and, increasingly, autoimmune disease. So it’s doesn’t take a rocket scientist to connect the dots between gluten and bloating. Zap the gluten, reduce the puffies.

Moving on now…

WHY DEEP, RESTFUL SLEEP TRIMS YOU DOWN 

1. It regulates the key hunger hormones. Specifically, these are leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is the goodie; it tells you when you’re full. Ghrelin is the baddie; it’s an appetite-increaser. Obvi you want higher levels of leptin and lower levels of ghrelin circulating through your bod. Deep sleep helps with that.

2. It prevents you from lunging at fake, sugary “energizers.” Whether starchy, carb-y and gluten-y (don’t, please don’t) or chocolate-y (don’t do that either, unless it’s a tiny chunk of anti-oxidant-laced dark), sugar will dribble you up and down like a basketball. And then it will make you fat. When you’re well-rested, you simply don’t crave carbs and sugar as much.

3. It raises your resting metabolic rate. That means more automatic calorie-burn. We love us some automatic calorie-burn.

4. It keeps you out of the fridge, pantry and cookie jar. Duh-basic, but so true: The more hours you’re awake each day (and night), the more food and drink you consume. Shave off some of that noshing / sipping time by burrowing under the covers. (You’ll improve your skin, emotional state and mental-alertness, too. Yay!)

5. It gives you the energy – and motivation – to work out. Although controlling your calorie-intake is far, far, far more important to weight loss than exercise (even the top trainers in the world will tell you that), it does help. And besides, it tones and tightens your shizzle right up. Tight is good.

Share

Metabolic Syndrome, decoded. (You’re very welcome, my carb-addict, sugar-gobbling friend…)

So innocent-looking, and yet so....

So cheerful and innocent-looking, and yet so damn bad for you.

A pal told me a story recently that scared the pants off me:

It seems her sister, who is quite a bit younger than we are, already has high blood pressure and has been told by her doc that she’s pre-diabetic.

Whoa, whoa and whoa, right?

So scary.

When I heard this, I immediately flashed-back to my last round of bloodwork, roughly 10 months ago.

At that time, per my internist, my blood sugar was “slightly elevated” to 118. (I just looked it up, and that number definitely puts me in the pre-diabetic category…)

Still, I don’t know whether that was an accurate assessment, and here’s why: Faithful readers may recall that I had thrown a monkey wrench into the whole bloodwork / glucose-testing process - and probably compromised my results – by eating a cinnamon raisin bagel (with butter and jelly, for pete’s sake) – mere minutes before the popping into my doc’s office.

El Stupido move. You aren’t supposed to eat anything before glucose-testing, much less a sugar-bomb cinnamon raisin bagel with jelly.

Because I already knew that, I wasn’t completely shocked when those numbers came back so high. Still, I was pretty upset. Not freaked-out enough to stop eating sugar cold-turkey, but…concerned.

Now back to the present: On Saturday, for no real reason I could discern, I just felt terrible in the middle of the day. Like really, really bad. I rallied to go to mass and out to dinner afterward, but man, that mid-day slump was a killah.

So I retraced my steps: What had I eaten earlier that could have triggered such an epic crash? Bread. I’d had two pieces of toast for brekkie, and a sandwich for lunch.

Sometimes – actually a lot of times – I think to myself: “Ditch the gluten, babe.” I’ve also blogged about it quite a bit:

OMG, I really gotta get off gluten

Mally Roncal is making me paranoid about gluten  

And more recently, whenever I’ve found myself digging into Halloween candy that’s stillllllllll hanging around, I’ve also thought: “Ditch the sugar, babe.”

So now, at long last, I’m connecting the dots between gluten, sugar and Metabolic Syndrome. [Metabolic Syndrome isn’t always capped, btw. But I think it’s super scary, so I’M CAPPING.]

Although there’s debate (not much anymore, but some) in the medical community about gluten’s role in triggering insulin resistance, there is zero debate about how sugar contributes to the equation.

And before you say, “Hey, I thought this blog post was about Metabolic Syndrome, not insulin resistance,” know that the two go hand in hand, like Salt-N-Pepa. If you’re insulin-resistant, you’re probably headed down the highway to hell of Metabolic Syndrome. Bear with me, please, my pretty…

EASY-PEASY DEFINITION OF METABOLIC SYNDROME

In a nutshell, Metabolic Syndrome is a cluster of risk factors that, bundled together, increase your chances of winding up with heart disease, diabetes and strokes. Although there’s a genetic component – and it’s more prevalent as we age – lifestyle plays a huge role in who does – and does not – end up with Metabolic Syndrome. We’ll get to prevention in a bit.

RISK FACTORS FOR METABOLIC SYNDROME

According to the NIH, these are the primary risk factors for Metabolic Syndrome:

1. A large waistline. Excess fat in the stomach area is a greater risk factor for heart disease than excess fat in other parts of the body.

2. A high triglyceride level. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood.

3. A low HDL (aka “good”) cholesterol level. HDL helps remove cholesterol from your arteries. A low HDL cholesterol level raises your risk for heart disease.

4. High blood pressure. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage your heart and lead to plaque buildup.

5. High fasting blood sugar. Mildly high blood sugar may be an early sign of diabetes.

FYI, these “factors” tend to go together. And once you have you have at least three of them, you are well on your way to Metabolic Syndrome.

LIFESTYLE SHIFTS TO PREVENT METABOLIC SYNDROME

1. Size-up your waist on a regular basis. Your goal is under 35 inches. Men can go up to 40. You are not a man.

2. Keep your weight low-ish. A BMI of between 18.5 to 24.9 is recommended. There are a million BMI calculators online. Can’t find one, Lazy Bones? Here ya go...

3. Hit the bricks. Exercise is crucial for your well-being, especially the healthy heart-pounding aerobic kind.

4. Clean up your diet. Personally, I feel better when I cut way, way back on gluten. I’m also really loving the I Quit Sugar book right now. That author is a maje genius. I think I’ll order her new kids’ cookbook, too.

5. Manage your stress. There isn’t a direct, causal link between stress and high blood pressure and heart disease, but here’s how it can screw up our health all the same: It can cause you to gobble shitty-for-you frosted, white-flour cookies like the gorge ones pictured here. It can make you drink too much booze “to wind down” after a tough one at work or minding your tot-lets. And it can make you say, “I’m in a crummy mood, there’s no way I’m running tonight.”  That’s what stress can do to you. So manage it, s’il vous plait.

Share

Act II of my chat with Phytomer Angela, all-around skin expert and DIY-facial guru extraordinaire

You'll get the "sea" idea in a sec.

You’ll get the “sea” reference in a sec.

Yesterday I introduced you to Angela Ericksen-Stanley, Director of Education for Phytomer, the sophisticated, delish and super-effective French skincare brand that derives many of its ingredients from the ocean. Phytomer also develops “thalossotherapy” treatments for spas, which literally deploy sea water to beautify.

Aaaah…I could barely type that last sentence without wanting to dive into the Gulf. How much do you love the ocean? So much, right?

Back to Angela. She teaches Phytomer estheticians how to execute all those thalossotherapy treatments. She also teaches them how to perform truly excellent facials, treatments that involve many complicated steps and oodles of products.

Happily, Angela has agreed to help us import some of that spa magic back to our very own salles de bains. Picking up where yesterday’s chat left off, she’s giving us more DIY tips and insider skin intel.

Encore, on y va.

Wait, before we dive into all that, I promised you a cute pic of Angela. Et voila:

AngelaEriksenStanley

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, on to the chat.

1. DANA: Let’s circle back to one of yesterday’s topics: Removing makeup. How can we get squeaky clean before we move on to the rest of our DIY facial?

ANGELA: For eye makeup removal – in addition to using a product specifically formulated for this – soak a cotton round with makeup remover and lightly press over the eye to saturate makeup. Be extra careful and don’t rub; that just causes irritation. Carefully remove makeup from eyelids and lashes.

For the face, emulsify your cleanser with your fingertips and gently cleanse, using circular motions. Use an electronic cleansing brush, if you’re into those. Then thoroughly rinse with warm water and gently pat skin dry with a soft towel. Again, don’t rub.

(NOTE FROM DANA: I just blogged Clarisonic Dos & Don’ts earlier this week, if you’d like more details on that.)

2. DANA: Got it. Now on to masks. There are millions on the market. How do you figure out what type to use?

ANGELA: When visiting the spa, ask your therapist / esthetician to help identity your skin type along with its current condition.

Having multiple types of mask on hand can be a great way to address the little changes that can take place due to seasonal, hormonal, and stress level fluctuations. Depending on the differences that can occur in each individual’s skin it may be beneficial to have two or more types of mask on hand to customize your at-home facial and skincare program.

Here are some guidelines:

If you tend to get flakiness or tightness in the skin due to dehydration, frequently or from time to time, it would be a good idea to have a hydrating mask. Most hydrating masks can be used on any skin type, because they simply boost the skin’s ability to hold onto water. This makes them a safe choice.

If you have frequent or monthly breakouts, it would be a good idea to have a purifying mask on hand. They can be used to soothe and accelerate the healing process of a breakout, while disinfecting the skin and absorbing excess oil.

If you have very sensitive skin or are prone to blotching due to stress or seasonal changes, having a soothing mask on hand can be useful.

If you’re looking to target another specific concern – such as dark spots or to slow the aging process – seek out more targeted masks with ingredients to provide results for those concerns within your skincare brand.

3. DANA: What do you think about those “overnight” masks that are popping up on the market more and more? They sound messy, not to mention potentially irritating.

ANGELA: If a product is too messy or hard to use it will sit on your shelf. Instead of an overnight mask, just use a high-quality nighttime moisturizer to conclude your at-home facial. Our Night Recharge Youth Enhancing Cream is designed to work at night when your skin is in “repair mode.” It’s loaded with antioxidant ingredients to detox the skin, re-oxygenate and repair. Skin looks really refreshed in the morning.

4. DANA: Any harm in leaving a clay mask on longer than the recommended time? Sometimes I get distracted doing something else and forget to remove them in a timely manner.

ANGELA: That could definitely dry the skin out too much, which you don’t want. The other issue that can come up is that the clay dries out and adheres to the skin so it can be difficult to remove. Sometimes it takes a lot of rubbing and scrubbing, which can lead to sensitivity by the time the mask is finally removed.

5. DANA: How often do recommend doing a DIY facial?

ANGELA: Once to twice a week depending on your skin type, the condition it’s in and the recommendations of your pro skin therapist.

OTHER PHYTOMER PRODUCTS TO TRY

Micellar Water – for removing eye makeup

Doux Visage Velvet Cleansing Cream – gentle all-over cleanser

Oligopur Shine Control Purifying Mask – clay-based; absorbs oil without excessively drying the skin

Douceur Marine Soothing Cocoon Mask - calms sensitive and redness-prone skin

Share

My pro facialist pal* is begging you to stop using that super-scary DIY “extractor”

You can do this. (But gently, pretty please.)

You can do this. (But gently, pretty please.)

I lied. Snap.

*Angela Ericksen-Stanley isn’t actually my pal. In fact, I’ve never even met Angela Ericksen-Stanley.

But she’s the Director of Education for Phytomer, a kickass French skincare line I really love. As such, she’s been training estheticians for 15 years, teaching them best practices for facials, body treatments and thalassotherapy-based spa care.

And to stay up to speed on cutting-edge products and techniques, Angela trots the globe attending all manner of serious complexion summits.

Given her skin smarts, I asked Angela to help all of us get a little better at DIY-ing at-home facials. Because as much as I love a good trip to the spa, sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands.

Happily, my cherished, life-long pal* Angela provided so much intel that I’m busting this post into two parts.

Today: Act I of the Q+A.

Tomorrow: Act II of the Q+A, helpful tips, product recos and a cute pic of Angela, my BFF. On y va!

1. DANA: What are some key mistakes women make when attempting DIY facials?

ANGELA: Skipping steps or performing steps out of sequence. For example, you wouldn’t want to skip exfoliation, as masks and serums that follow exfoliation penetrate and work better once dead skin cells have been eliminated. Also, using products that are not adapted to their skin type. Right now, stronger exfoliating ingredients are popular, but not everyone should use them – especially sensitive-skinned individuals. Or some women think that because they get a small monthly hormonal breakout that they have oily skin, so they use products that are too drying.

Truly knowing what skin type you have can help navigate the many choices of skincare products out there.

2. DANA: What’s the best first step? A light removal of makeup or a deeper cleansing?

ANGELA:  First, remove eye makeup with a product specifically adapted to the eye area.

Next, perform a more thorough cleansing over the entire face and neck to remove the impurities that are constantly accumulating on the skin, including perspiration, sebum, dead skin cells, pathogens and various types of airborne pollutants captured from the environment.

Twice-daily elimination of these impurities helps prevent skin weakening and a dull complexion. Using a cleanser adapted to your skin type removes impurities to prevent congestion, and allows for perfect absorption of products that follow. Cleansers can also contain specific targeted ingredients to improve the complexion.

Toning is an important final step of the cleansing process. Toners are designed to restore the pH levels of the skin to a slightly acidic 5.5. When you cleanse the face, cleansers are typically rinsed from the skin with water, which has a neutral pH of 7. Also, depending on where you live, tap water can have hard water deposits, chlorine, and other impurities.

Toning the skin after cleansing helps to restore pH balance, while picking up traces of cleanser and impurities from tap water.

3. DANA: Should steam ALWAYS follow cleansing? Are there any at-home steamers you like? Dr. Gross has a newish one, but it’s pretty pricey.

ANGELA: My favorite next step of an at-home facial is to use a gentle, yet thorough enzymatic exfoliant. Steam is a great way to activate enzymes in exfoliating products. For me, using steam while standing in the shower or hovering your face over a boiling pot of water works really well. You don’t always have to use steam with your exfoliant, especially if you’re using a scrub. But adding steam to an enzymatic peel will definitely make the results of the exfoliation closer to that of a professional treatment.

4. DANA: What do DIY-ers do wrong with steaming? Too hot? Not hot enough?

ANGELA: I tend to think in our culture of “more is better,” women probably go too hot.

5. DANA: How do you feel about those scary blackhead extractors?

ANGELA: Resist the urge to pick! If you must, schedule a facial and request that your esthetician perform extractions. At-home extraction can lead to bacteria spread, redness, damaged skin and even permanent scarring.

6. DANA: If used properly, can they be okay?

ANGELA: If you don’t know how to use one – and most women don’t – stay away from them. In general, performing extractions on yourself isn’t a good idea. If a trained professional esthetician wants to use an extractor, that’s fine; they can make extractions less painful. Leave extractions to the pros.

Share

Beauty Armoire Monday: I always forget about my monogrammed Clarisonic skin thing-a-ma-jiggy

Welcome back, Sleek White Stranger.

Welcome back, Sleek White Whirring Buzzing Stranger.

I’m sure many of you Momoverettes have heard the expression…

There’s no ‘there’ there

In general, it’s a phrase used to imply that some event, or objet, that has been massively hyped is actually kinda meh. A non-event, if truth be told.

But “There’s no ‘there’ there” is also sometimes used to describe a person who lacks substance, who doesn’t seem to have a whole lot going on between the ears.

And frankly, it’s what I sometimes think about yours truly when I catch myself lying awake at night pondering Big Issues like blackheads, and the best way to erase them from our lives.

But there you have it: I’m perfectly happy expending brain cells on matters of such importance as de-clogging pores.

So without further ado, I will now get to the raison d’être of today’s blog post: The pros, cons, and best practices of using a Clarisonic.

More Than You’re Probably Ready to Hear About Clarisonic (Plus a Few Genuinely Helpful Tips) 

1. For some women, they’re a game-changer.

2. I’m not one of those women. Which isn’t to say that I haven’t gotten good results from mine. (When I remember that I own it.)

3. Having said that, it is s-t-e-l-l-a-r at de-clogging tricky bits like chins and noses. Even after a single use, I can see a big diff. When I can’t get to a facialist (and I haven’t found an awesome one yet in my newly adopted FLA city), I rely heavily on my Clarisonic.

4. Women with super-sensitive skin should steer clear. End of story.

5. Please don’t smush it into your face. Go easy, lady; it’s plenty exfoliating all on its own. No need to apply any extra pressure.

6. Use it only with a non-grainy liquid cleanser. At the risk of repeating myself, it’s already an aggressive exfoliator. Don’t pile on the hurt with a scrub.

7. Once a day is more than enough. Actually, 2 or 3 times a week would be just dandy.

8. There’s no rule that says you have to use it for a full minute. Yes, there’s that whole “20-second per quadrant” beeping timer situation. Ignore it. Bail halfway through the allotted 60 seconds and your mug will thank you for it.

9. Be a complete hygiene freak about your precious Clarisonic. That means sanitizing the detachable brush head by soaking it in alcohol or boiling it in hot water. I think some derm or name-check facialist also recommended putting them in the dishwasher, but perhaps I dreamt that? Entirely possible.

10. And about those detachable brush heads: Swap ‘em out every three months. Yes they’re spendy. Suck it up. Cut a mani or a pedi out of your beauty budget and just pony on up and git yerself a spiffy new brush head already.

11. If you want / need to save some dough, feel free to skip the whole “sonic brush” shooting match and just use a washcloth instead. Or better yet, one of those Eve Lom cleansing muslins. Now that, to me, is a game-changer. Swoon times a billion.

 

Share

Spanxing at Sunday mass. Maybe I should just do planks instead? Or jump some damn rope?

Our new weekly haunt. So sweet.

Our new weekly haunt. (Pssst…one of the priests looks like Jesus.)

Faithful Momoverettes know that, if provoked, I can talk vicious smack about shapewear.

Mostly because I find a lot of it incredibly – no, wildly – uncomfortable.

But also because I feel shapewear can promote a “get out of jail free card” mentality that I find a tad unhealthy.

In other words:

Go ahead and stuff your face, babe. You can always squeeze into this circulation-strangling compression-suit contraption later and no one will ever know. 

Whoa, that sounded harsh. I’m sorry. I’m kind of in a bad mood today. Maybe that’s because I’ve done exactly that lately: Stuffed my face with post-Halloween candy (so much g.d. post-Halloween candy) and then had to squeeze into a pair of lace-trimmed Spanx bike shorts as my penance.

Here’s the deal: Last Sunday morning, after detecting a slight chill in the air, I decided to trot out one of my fave J Crew pencil skirts for 9:30 mass.

Not the famous No. 2 Pencil style, which I have in abundance. But rather another narrow number, the one with the zippered pockets.

Wait, I just looked it up. It’s called the Patch-Pocket Pencil, and I have it in navy. They don’t make it anymore, evidently. Whyyyyyy??? Why, J Crew, why? Why give up on a goodie? I do not understand you, J Crew.

Here’s a pic:

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 1.51.10 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to my story, which is, thankfully, brief: My stomach is a disaster right now. It’s sporting a maje muffin top (merci beaucoup, g.d. post-Halloween candy), and has no discernible tone. Thus I had no choice but to jam myself into shape shorts to look even remotely church-appropriate.

Sidebar One: Did I just coin a new term back there? “Shape Shorts”? I am officially brilliant. Trademarking that right now, and you guys are my witnesses. Shape Shorts™.

Sidebar Two: I inherited this “wayward belly flab is gauche” fixation from my mama. She was soooooooo skinny. And a très chic dresser. But after birthing five totlets, she wasn’t about to let it all hang out, ab-wise. So she wore a girdle (the latter-day version of Shape Shorts™) under her pencil skirts every. single. day. of. her. life. That’s commitment.

Okay, time for the “service” part of this blog post!

Since I’m no fan of ab work, I’ve decided to hone in on the one stomach exercise I can actually stomach – planks – to trim my tummy.

I’m also doubling down on jumping rope (which I’ve been doing a lot of while catching up on eps of my new addiction, Vanderpump Rules) in the hopes of slicing off a bit of belly flubber.

Let’s find out if I’m on crack about the ability of planks and jumping rope to whittle our middles, shall we?

HOW PLANKS TONE YOUR ABS 

1. Planks are isometric, which entails contracting and holding an isolated muscle group. They’re an efficient all-over core-toner, targeting both your stomach and lower back. (Oh and guess what? The Mayo Clinic is also not down with “girdles” as a substitute for ab work, as you can read here…)

2. The classic version – Front Planks – are basically the “up” portion of a pushup, held for increasingly long periods of time as your endurance increases. (Start with 20 seconds, building to 60. Aim for 3- to 5-rep sequences.)

3. A few good-form Front Plank tips I read on the World Wide Interweb: A) Make sure your shoulders are directly over your elbows. B) Legs should be positioned closely enough together so that ankles, knees and toes are touching. C) Support your weight with your forearms and toes.

4. An alternative version – Side Planks – works the oblique (aka side) muscles. Everyone in the fitness world seems utterly besotted with Side Planks, so I think I better learn to do them, pronto. To facilitate that, I’ll be scrutinizing this link.

HOW JUMPING ROPE TONES YOUR ABS 

1. Jumping rope is plyometric, which entails short blasts of “explosive,” maximum exertion. It shapes the entire body, targeting both upper and lower muscles.

2. In an indirect way, jumping rope whittles your middle because it’s a major bodywide fat-burner. It’s estimated jumping burns 10 calories per minute.

3. More directly, the mere act of jumping forces the body to engage the core just to stay stable. Several stomach muscles are affected by these short blasts of energy – the rectus and transverse abdominis and both the inner and outer obliques.

4. For maximum toning, really suck in your gut while jumping. And two last tips: A) Don’t tilt forward or backward. B) Land as softly as possible on the balls of your feet. No heel action. Ever.

Share

Beauty Armoire Monday: Josie Maran is really, really pretty. (The makeup and the actual person.)

Delish, right? And they go on really sheer.

Delish, right? And they go on really sheer.

Happy Monday, my lovelies! Are we off to a festive start this week? I am, and here’s why:

I moved an organizing mountain this weekend, and I’m quite insanely proud of myself, if I may be so bold as to say so.

The backstory: Once upon a time (until this past Saturday), there was this massive navy blue storage bin tucked in a corner of our house causing me agita every time I caught a glimpse of it. It was very deep, and very long, and very filled with very incredible skincare, hair brews and maquillage I lugged down to FLA from New York.

And this very deep, and very long, and very filled storage bin was in ADDITION to my main Beauty Armoire, which you can see here, and which clocks in at about 6′ x 4.’ (P.S. It looks a lot tidier now, waaaay tidier...)

I knew that the contents of this big blue bad boy needed to find a home in a closet in my master bathroom, but for some reason I was just dreading making that happen.

Mais maintenant, voila: I am now the thrilled owner of Baby Beauty Armoire.

Baby Beauty Armoire, the offspring of Mama Beauty Armoire, is smaller. But it’s not small. It’s six very deep shelves, which I’ve loosely orged by skin, hair, bath + body, makeup and shopping-bags-of-stuff-I-lost-the-energy-to-sort.

BBA makes me happy. It’s not orged to perfection yet, but it’s sorted-out enough to allow me to go “shopping.”

And this is what I came up with on my first BBA shopping trip:

Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelee

Josie Maran Argan Color Stick

Josie Maran Argan Love Your Lips Hydrating Lipstick

What all of these gorge makeup goodies have in common is that the colors are extremely wearable – even the brighter ones – because they go on really sheer.

And they feel fantastic. Why? Because they’re drenched in argan oil. Lots of hydrating argan oil, and zero potentially-cancer-causing phthalates, parabens, etc.

May I please just climb up on my soapbox and say that Josie Maran was the very first person in beauty to embrace argan oil? And that everybody in the industry copied her? C’est vrai. 

There, I feel better now.

I just really wanted to get that out there.

Not that Josie needs my help, of course.

On any front.

You’ve seen her, right?

No?

Well feast your eyes:

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 12.26.07 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Josie Maran is stunning, and funny, and she makes a-ma-zing makeup and skincare.

Oh, and did I mention she was the first in beauty to embrace argan oil? And that everybody in the industry copied her? C’est vrai.

Share

Momover Lady’s Library: Life Coach In a Box by Carol Stanton, M.Ed, M.A.

Found this gem on my shelves. Yay!

Found this gem on my shelves. Yay!

I’ve done this a lot, and maybe you have, too: I gather materials for my future lives, my future selves, that I’m not quite ready for at that precise moment, but just know will come in super-handy at some point.

Rarely do I buy something of a self-help-y, crunchy nature and plow through it that same day.

With one huge exception: When I was actively soulmate-searching (prior to meeting The Man Who Would Be Hubby), I would devour countless how-to-get-a-man books. Countless. In fact, when I got engaged I lugged three massive shopping bags of ‘em to the Salvation Army.

Can you imagine what the Salvation Army operative thought when he unpacked all those books? Howdy, biggest hussy-loser on the planet!

(For the record – and because Momover Lady’s Library is all about Momover Lady’s Library – my all-time faves in the vast how-to-catch-a-man canon were: A Fine Romance by Judith Sills and Getting To ‘I Do’ by Pat Allen. Those two really got me through quite a few dark nights of the soul.)

Okay, onward.

Since I haven’t needed any how-to-catch-a-man help for a dozen happy years, I’ve replaced that fixation with roughly 50 more.

But if I had to sum it all up, the running theme is Self-Improvement. I always want to do better. At everything.

Which is obvi why I impulse-purchased the cheery little number pictured here: Life Coach In a Box by Carol Stanton.

I can’t imagine what was going through my mind when I bought this several years ago, but I just remember thinking that the tasks the author lays out for readers were sooooooooo hard.

Circa now, maybe because I’m working for myself again and have more control over my schedule, these very same tasks seem absolutely manageable.

Downright do-able.

And, dare I say it? Even fun.

Yes, it can be fun to whip your sorry ass into all kinds of shape. Not just the flat-abs, thighs-don’t-touch kinda shape (although, hello, flat abs and thigh gaps – so important!)

Let’s get to specifics, shall we? And stop day-dreaming of thigh gaps? What’s wrong with you people??? So superficial!

HOW THIS BOX IS SET UP

Contained within there are: 1) A handy instruction booklet, outlining the plan. 2) A deck of cards broken into six big life buckets. And 3) A blank journal that’s also broken-out by those same big life buckets.

ABOUT THOSE LIFE BUCKETS…

They are:

1. Spirituality

2. Work / Career

3. Relationships

4. Finance

5. Recreation

6. Health / Fitness

EVERYONE’S BUCKET LIST WILL BE DIFFERENT 

I have workaholic tendencies (there, I said it, grrr…), so of course I gravitate first toward the Work / Career bucket.

But I’m also A) impossibly crunchy, so the Spirituality bucket is whispering to me, and B) incredibly superficial, so I’m also interested in Health / Fitness.

Here’s the dealio, though: To get the most out of “Life Coach In a Box,” you should probably focus on an area you need some real help with.

Handy tip: Which one of these buckets is scaring the pants off you? Finance? Relationships? Go there first. Man up and just do it.

WHAT EACH BUCKET ENTAILS

Each bucket has its own set of action cards, aka “coaching steps,” that are filled with lots of To Dos and questions you can answer in your journal.

Using the big. scary Finance bucket as an example, I’ll give you one money-related task, tip, or journal prompt for each action card:

1. Reflection: Take a look at your attitudes toward money, both earlier in your life and now.

2. Exploration: Look for a mentor or role model who is good with money and is willing to teach you about it.  

3. Vision: What would your ideal financial situation look like? 

4. Intention: Do you need to develop a budget? Rethink your lifestyle? See a financial advisor or attend a seminar? What are the steps you can take each day to become more financially responsible and work toward your goal? 

5. Challenges: What fears do I have about money? 

6. Allies: What resources can you use to learn more about money? 

7. Creativity: Make a collage of your dream house / vacation. 

8. Celebration: Make sure you include your reward when you’re creating your budget so you will not find yourself in financial trouble again. 

SEE WHAT I MEAN? 

These life coach tasks are manageable, do-able, maybe even a little fun.

So glad I impulse-purchased this when I wasn’t ready for it.

Because now, I like totally am.

 

Share

Special Blog Guest: Rachel ten Brink, the coolly-named cosmetics whiz and co-founder of Scentbird

Say bonjour to Rachel!

Say bonjour to Rachel!

Sometimes, in this cold, compartmentalized world we live in, two people can toil at the same company – for years! – and never even cross paths.

Such is the case with Dana Wood (aka Momover Lady) and Rachel ten Brink (aka the smart, fun gal you’ll be hearing from here).

La grande société de beauté Rach and I slaved at: This one.

The years Rach and I slaved there: Early ’00s.

Just kidding…about the slave bit.

Rachel and I agree that we loved our time at la grande société de beauté. We both learned so much, and totally miss all the trips to Paris.

Now, after stints at other beauty companies (including P&G, Estée Lauder and Elizabeth Arden), Rachel is a co-founder of Scentbird, the genius-y, by-subscription delivery system that drops a new fragrance on your doorstep every month.

But just a small vial, btw; enough to last 30 days and bust you right out of your signature-scent rut. More on Scentbird in a bit…

Rachel’s other credentials + details: She’s been in the biz for close to 20 years, but took a break to get her MBA at Columbia Business School. She’s a mama of two (a boy and a girl) and lives in Manhattan.

Okay, let’s dive into the Q + A.  But first, know that Rachel can sometimes deflect a question by quoting someone awesome on a given topic. You’ll see…

1. DANA: You’ve worked at so many companies, on so many brands. Any products you’re especially proud of?

RACHEL: I was very involved in developing the [Aramis] Lab Series MAX LS products. I loved getting into the minds of men, particularly those who think they don’t need skincare and yet end up buying the most luxurious and expensive products in the line.

2. DANA: Prior to Scentbird, had you worked in fragrance?

RACHEL: I was very lucky to work on some fantastic fragrance brands. I worked on Coach, Juicy Couture and on the development of the new Wildfox perfume that will be launching soon. I love the creative process of fragrance. Scent is so visceral and at the same time, visual.

3. DANA: What drew you to Scentbird?

RACHEL: I’m fascinated with the link between technology and beauty, and knew that it would be startups that would push the envelope and truly innovate. I started working with my co-founder, Mariya Nurislamova, initially in an advisory role. As I got more and more involved in the project, I decided to jump in with both feet and left my corporate role to join Scentbird. It’s been a lot of hard work but I haven’t looked back.

I always had an entrepreneurial streak. My dad had his own business when I was growing up in Costa Rica, and from a young age, I knew I would start something.

4. DANA: Startups are grueling. But are you finding you have more flexibility in your schedule to be with your kids than you had in your corporate jobs?

RACHEL: I would describe it more as “running full speed ahead with a full plate” than a passive  “balance.”  Some days I’m a better entrepreneur, some days I’m a better mom.

5. DANA: Do you work mostly from home?

RACHEL: We have an office in midtown NYC so most of my work is there, although I do work from home (at night). It’s important to me to take time to drop off both of my kids to their respective schools every morning. This involves running to a 8:30 am drop-off for my son, then back home to pick up my daughter to get her to class by 9. I make a point of hanging out in my daughter’s classroom every morning for as long as the teachers let me. It’s a good time for us to bond.

6. DANA: Switching gears to fragrance, why is it important to switch it up, scent-wise?

RACHEL: Scent is the perfect way to complement whatever you’re feeling. I think it’s interesting that you can use it to express the internal (your mood) or the external (your style).

The same way you could live with one scent, you could make do with one pair of shoes. But it’s so boring! We see an evolution as women use scent to express themselves, looking at perfumes as their wardrobe. Even if you have a signature scent you continue to go back to, it’s so fun to explore other fragrances according to the season, your style or your mood.

(NOTE FROM DANA: For more on the value of switching it up, check out the Scentbird testimonials on YouTube.)

7. DANA: Do you think changing your scent can change your mood?

RACHEL: I always think of this quote:

“Scent is the fastest way to change your mood” – Aerin Lauder

Absolutely! Just a quick sniff has the ability to change your mood or transport you to a different place.

I also love this quote from Andy Warhol from 1975 – it was an inspiration for launching Scentbird:

“I switch perfumes all the time. If I’ve been wearing one perfume for three months, I force myself to give it up, even if I still feel like wearing it, so whenever I smell it again it will always remind me of those three months…Smell really is transporting. Seeing, hearing, touching, tasting are just not as powerful as smelling if you want your whole being to go back for a second to something. It’s a neat way to reminisce.”

8. DANA: Swoon. I love Aerin Lauder AND Andy Warhol!

Now that you’re a big-wig at a fragrance company, do you feel compelled to have an amazingly scented home? Would I find $500 candles burning throughout your pad?

RACHEL: I would love to have fine candles burning throughout. But with a very active 2 ½ year-old, that has disaster written all over it.

I did treat myself a few years ago to a lovely modern dressing table in my bedroom that I stack with perfumes and makeup. I love having that piece of furniture to store my “toys.”

10. DANA: How many fragrances – ballpark – have you tried since joining Scentbird?

RACHEL: I think I’ve literally smelled more than 2000 perfumes. We currently carry 350-plus perfumes in our portfolio and go through a very extensive sniff tests to hand-select the fragrances we think have the highest propensity to make our customer happy. We love finding hidden jewels – even in well-known brands like Ferragamo, Lalique, and David Yurman that Sephora doesn’t carry.

We’re also working on a new addition to our fragrance portfolio – the VAULT. The VAULT is a curated collection of unique, rare, niche and artisanal scents that will be available to our VIP subscribers. Currently we’re sifting through hundreds of fragrances to pick the select few that will be a part of this offering. These are true gems in perfumery – containing pure essential oils, and exceptional scents, definitely not your average fruity-florals.

11. DANA: One last Q before you scoot off: What do you miss most about traveling to Paris for work?

RACHEL: I miss having a little time to sneak out to an outdoor cafe in St.Germain, ordering a lovely glass of red wine (served at just the right temperature) and a steak tartare, and just watching the well-dressed Parisians go by.

DANA: Yum – to all of that. Thank you!

Share