Archive of ‘LIFESTYLE’ category

Wellness Wednesday: My Personal French Diet {Guest Writer}

Rue Cler Market

Many of you know that I am a big believer of health and wellness. I believe beauty starts on the inside and no matter what product you buy it won’t look good on dehydrated skin and skin that needs internal repair. Wellness Wednesdays are here to promote beauty as a lifestyle and not just a product. I love a good workout, but wanted to write about wellness more and I have asked my good friend Xina to contribute to a few posts to help you on your beauty and wellness journey.

Guest Writer: Xina
Wellness Wednesday: My Personal French Diet

Over the past three years, since returning from my first visit in Paris, France in November 2012, I’ve been thinking about starting a new blog on the adventures of my life. Friends, family, and colleagues tell me that I really have great stories to share, especially about my life as a PR strategist living in D.C.  Although I agree that I work with some of the most amazing clients in the world, there is a greater message that I want to share with everyone – good health.

My work as a PR strategist includes not only projects with nonprofits, government, and corporate clients but also businesses and organizations that focus on health. I’ve worked on national large-scale campaigns such as HIV/AIDS, infant mortality, flu vaccination, cancer, diabetes and many others. While working on these campaigns, two common threads I see as I travel all over the United States – deteriorating health in African Americans, Hispanics and other disenfranchised communities and obesity among children and teens.

Americans enjoy one of the most luxurious lifestyles on earth: Our food is plentiful. Our work is automated. Our leisure is effortless. And it’s killing us.

I went to Paris with a group of friends who are fashion and beauty bloggers to visit a few beauty houses around the city. My friend Julia Coney, creator of this blog suggested I go even though I wasn’t a blogger.  It was supposed to be a five-day excursion but due to Hurricane Sandy, I was there for an extra four days.  It was the first time I had ever been out of the country, except for trips to the Caribbean and Mexico.

While I was in Paris, I became fascinated with the culture of the city and the food. I couldn’t get enough of the rich foods the French eat. Food is a very important part of the French culture. The French are notoriously chic, especially when it comes to cuisine. They eat lots of rich foods, creamy cheeses, decadent desserts and drink full-bodied wines.

{Market bounty. Fresh, local, and healthy.}

Biarritz Farmer's Market

{Exceptional food and normal size portions.}

French Food

Before I arrived in France, I was at least 15 lbs heavier even though I am pretty athletic and a healthy eater.  Like most people on vacation, I decided not to worry about my weight and indulged on the French cuisine without worry or guilt. The end result: I lost at least 5-7 lbs when I returned to the U.S.

So how, then, did this weight loss happen? Why did I come to Paris weighing more than I ever have in my entire life and lost the pounds that I was struggling to shed in the U.S. in the “City of Lights?”

Subconsciously, I started living as if I were a Parisian. I took in everything I saw them do, including how they eat.

While I was standing in the crepe line, yes I said the crepe line, I asked a French woman how do the French stay so skinny and they don’t deprive themselves of food. She gave me a few answers: watch food portions, eat locally-grown produce, walk or take stairs as much as possible, drink more than eight ounces of water and finally no in-between snacking; only eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.

With that said, she went on to tell me that her teenage daughter lived on the U.S. West Coast for a summer and gained 10 pounds. She said that she couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw her daughter the first time after she returned to Paris.

{Stuck in Paris for a few more days in Paris. I’ll take it.}

Additional days in Paris

Once I returned home, many of my friends commented on my weight loss. I had no idea of what they were talking about. To me, I looked the same but it wasn’t until my girlfriend showed me the difference in the before and after pictures did I notice how much weight I took off in such a short amount of time.

I was on the French diet without realizing it. Now, I want to share those adventures with you.

My blog posts aren’t about dieting; it’s more about changing your lifestyle. I will share with you trips to farmers markets and discussing the different fruits and vegetables I buy to make my meals at home.  I’ve stopped eating out as much unless it is for business. I will also be about talk about my runs, workout classes and other methods I try to keep the weight off.

You will also learn about my weak moments with food such as whenever I go home to Detroit to visit with friends and family I eat more than I ever have in months.  It will be about how I fall back into old habits that sometimes take me days to get back on the healthy track.

Welcome to “La vie de Xina.” I hope you enjoy!!!

{Living the French lifestyle in Miami}

August 2015

Wellness Wednesday: Wanderlust 108, a Mindful Triathlon

In my never ending quest to stay healthy and fit, I have decided to start trying different fitness events to challenge me and get me out of my comfort zone. As a yogi, we are reminded often the only thing constant is change. It’s not always the easiest concept to grasp and as I get older it really hard to accept so much change I can’t control. Instead of going with the flow and being mad, I have decided to go with the flow and have fun. Smile, laugh, and wear a hot pink lipstick in the process.

One way I’m getting through the changes in life is to embrace fun. I mean the things that inspire and motivate me. I have been loving the concept of Wanderlust from a music and yoga festival to mini events all over the country. It takes yoga outside of the studio and into the world, literally. Wanderlust 108 is touted as the world’s kindest triathlon. What exactly does that mean? “This ‘mindful triathlon’ brings three events together in your favorite local park: a 5k run, an outdoor yoga experience, and a guided meditation — but with a twist.”

I know this is going to be a fun event and I hope this ankle injury I’m dealing with is healed by that time. I hope to see you there. I know this is going to give me the Wanderlust bug because I already have my eyes on the Wanderlust festival in Oahu in February.

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Global Wellness Day with Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC

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I hope everyone had a glorious weekend. It was hot here in the DMV and I loved every single minute of it. On Saturday, I spent time at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, DC to celebrate Global Wellness Day. Global Wellness Day is just what it says – a day to celebrate wellness in various forms. It was also great to meet new local bloggers in real life instead of just on the Internet. For me, wellness is sleep, great food, and working out.

The Four Seasons Washington, DC is a true luxury destination and as a one of the invited media it was great to see the hotel participate in making wellness global. The hotel is situated in Georgetown, a popular area in DC and perfect for runners. The hotel’s spa is one of the best in the area for relaxation and rejuvenation.

The morning started with yoga (my personal favorite) outside with local instructor Christina Popescu. I normally practice in a studio and outside can always present challenges. Bugs, heat, uneven terrain, but the best thing about it is I have to focus on my breath and each posture.

{Yoga outside. I could get used to this.}

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By the time, we sweated it out and finished with savasana I was so relaxed. Savasana takes on a different meaning outside listening to the birds and babbling canal water. After yoga is was a post-yoga green juice (Green Goddess) and superfood muffins (I need the recipe).

{Green Goddess Juice & Superfood Muffins}

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The snack was a great preparation for breakfast. The hotel created the Green Machine omelette in honor of Global Wellness Day. I never have delicious Huevos Rancheros therefore I did my Texas duty and devoured mine. After lunch, it was time to relax in the spa area and because I never met a sauna or steam room I didn’t like I treated my body to a sweaty detox session.

{Green Machine Omelette}

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{Huevos Rancheros}

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{Spa treatment room}

Four Seasons Spa

I finished the day with a makeup session with local makeup artist Gavin Hebert using Jane Iredale products which I loved. I’m usually not a mineral makeup fan, but Gavin changed my mind.

{My before and after. My face felt light all day.}

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If you want to see how other Four Seasons around the world celebrated Global Wellness Day search the hashtag #FSWellness. Thank you to everyone at the Four Seasons for such a lovely day. Ladies, let’s make wellness an everyday event.

Cooking Light & Health’s The Fit Foodie 5K

I love my food. In all its glorious forms and I usually say “I workout so I can eat.” Cooking Light and Health Magazine heard the fit foodie’s cry and created a weekend of fitness and food. Cooking Light & Health’s The Fit Foodie 5K Weekend is June 19-21. The weekend consists of a VIP Cocktail Party, 5K run, yoga and food. What more could you ask for? Grab a girlfriend and see you next weekend. Run.Eat.Drink.

I also have a personal code for you to register for the weekend:  AMBASSADORGUEST. The weekend will also be taking place later this year in Chicago and San Diego.

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Reading Pretty: My Paris Dream by Kate Betts

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I simply devoured Kate Betts memoir My Paris Dream. You may know Kate as the author of Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style, but to me I feel a kindred soul. In My Paris Dream, Kate reflects on her time spent in Paris and the learning experience of a young woman who followed a dream. The book resonated with me because it’s coming on my 14-year anniversary of studying in Paris and all I can think of is: “what if Jamie never encouraged me to go?”

Before I graduated from college I had two choices – walk a stage or board a Continental Airlines (now United Airlines) flight to Paris. Guess which one I chose? Paris. I didn’t need a cap and gown ceremony. I needed baguettes, cheese, wine, and coming into my own. The previous few years had been a nightmare.

I lost my dad in 1999 and I remember my brother Jamie stepping in when I needed him. When my French teacher suggested I study abroad in Paris immediately fear crept in. I confided in my best friend Cassaundra, but I also confided in Jamie who I thought would discourage me. He didn’t. He immediately said “Move in with me and my family, save all your money, and go study in a place you dreamed about.” Well, alrighty then.

I took Jamie and his family up on their offer. On May 11, 2001 I stepped on a plane to go study, solo and prayed that all the money I paid for an apartment (before Air B&B) would result in me having an apartment. Cell phones? Not so much. My entire family went to the airport with me. This was when you could sit with your families before you flew and they could literally see you off. I remember sitting in CDG (Charles de Gaulle) after landing crying and writing in my journal. I was here. The place of Josephine Baker, Richard Wright, Laduree, Eartha Kitt, James Baldwin, Dior, Louis Vuitton, and oh yes, Sisley Cosmetics.

The year was magical. Unlike anything, I had ever experienced growing up in the South. It was literally my personal Paris dream. The dream would have never happened without Jamie. I miss him every day and especially now as I reminisce on my time in Paris. I had a dream and I was thankful for a brother who stepped in and helped make it happen. How many people are not living their dream and just existing? I hope you my fellow readers are not one of them. Life is too short to find your own Paris dream.

“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?” ~ Rumi

Feasting Pretty: Tessemae’s All Natural Salad Dressings

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We eat a lot of salad in my house. Seriously, between the two of us I know we go through tons of greens and vegetables each week. My mom eats a salad every day and sometimes twice a day. I think I get it honestly. A few years ago le husband and I decided that we were not going to eat mass produced salad dressings. I decided and as the cook in the family he had no choice but to go along with the plan. I normally make my own salad dressings with good extra virgin oil (in the words of Ina Garten), a delcious balsamic vinegar, and dijon mustard.

But then Tessamae entered my salad dressing world and we were hooked. Tessamae is a small family owned and operated company out of Annapolis, Maryland which is a hop, skip, and a jump to me. The dressings are all natural and expire within 60 days of opening. They don’t have high fructose corn syrup, exorbitant amounts of sugar, and a lot of the icky stuff most big name salad dressings have. All of Tessamae’s dressings can be used for salads, as a marinade or as a dip. Tessame, please come up with a miso dressing so I don’t have to make mine.

Now we are going back and forth testing and tasting all the dressings. After discovering how much sugar is in ketchup, I switched. Tessame’s has a kick and is so good. Once I tasted their ketchup I threw away every other brand in my refrigerator in the trash. Yes, I have a condiment problem.

They have a BBQ sauce, but since I’m from Texas (the home of the best BBQ in my opinion), I have to remain loyal to my dad’s recipe. Sorry, Tessamae. Some things just can’t change. Tessamae is worth investing in – for yourself and your tastebuds.

Reading Pretty: The Beauty Detox Power: Nourish Your Mind and Body for Weight Loss and Discover True Joy by Kimberly Snyder

The Beauty Detox Power Cover

I’ve been a huge fan of Kimberly Snyder for years. I met her when she lived in NY and she made me raw food and her famous green goddess smoothie. This was before there was a juice bar on every corner and green drinks now replaced soda in many hands. I love it. I believe one of the keys to beauty is food.

Kimberly’s new book focuses on cleaning the body through nourishing and healthy food that actually tastes good and is good for you.The Beauty Detox Power is a great addition to the beauty wellness bookshelf. After traveling the past few weeks, I decided to take a few days to reset. The best way for me is to relax, eat clean, and sleep. It’s amazing, but I seriously have been craving salad of all kinds and Sweetgreen definitely is my weakness. I’m definitely turning into my mother. The woman has eaten a salad every day her entire life. Yep, that’s why she’s so healthy at 75.

Dior and I

Dior and I

Last week before I headed to South Florida, my friend and I decided to see the limited release fashion documentary Dior and I. It was such a treat. The documentary follows Raf Simmons the new designer at Dior for his first haute couture show. He had to create the show in less than 8 weeks. Yes, you read correctly. In less than two months, he had to create a couture show for the house with original ideas with past influences.

The movie shows how much work and time goes into couture and why the dress is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. It also explains how the atelier and the designer sometimes butt heads. This film is for the true fashion lovers who love history, whimsy, and exceptional talent. The movie is in limited release so hurry and go see it.

It also gives you a glimpse of Paris and that is always a good thing.

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