Monday, September 29, 2014

Paris Travel Trips Or How To Meet The Man Of Your Dreams In France

arc de triomphe, paris
Arc de Triomphe
I was standing in front of the Arc de Triomphe on one of those magical Paris November days: cool but not bone-chillingly cold. While crouched on the ground and angling for the perfect shot of the famous monument, I heard a man say "Pardon, madame."

"Oui, monseiur" I said, standing up to fix my eyes on one of the most beautiful human beings I'd ever seen. I'm talking Michael Hutchence at Wembley Stadium hot.

"Would you take my picture?" he asked, obviously noting I was some random tourist.

"Pas problem," I responded, trying to impress this Frenchman with my high school English and wishing this experience was happening to me about five years ago.

I snapped the shot. He asked for my phone number while I was in Paris, jolting me back to reality. That jolt was apparent.

"You are here on holiday?" he asked with a sly smile. "Or with the airlines?" he said assuming I was a flight attendant. This wasn't Mr. Michael Hutchence look-a-like's first rodeo.

"Um, actually," I stammered and looked my left. "I'm here with my husband and daughter", pointing to Jim and Jordan.

"Quelle trag├ędie," he said.

Yes, it was. On my fifth trip to Paris, my first with my family, I finally had the stereotypical "flirt with a Frenchman" experience. Oh, what could have been.

On The Bright Side
Thing is, it wasn't a tragedy. It was further proof of the city's allure. In Paris, you never know where the day will take you or who you will meet. The struggle of getting there, dealing with potential language barriers and the dollar's weakness in relation to the euro are ALWAYS forgotten when met with the beauty of a city that inspires romance and a sense of adventure.

paris with a baby, paris with a toddler, paris with kids
At the Parc du Forum des Halles, November 2012
I have visited Paris and met neighbors from Dallas, oil barons from Dubai, new friends from Portugal and moguls from Austin. The city is one that breaks down those walls that we construct around us going through our daily existence.

Then there was the Michael Hutchence look-a-like. Damn....

Why Bring This Up Now? 
The husb, the kid and I are heading back to the City of Light this November (a great time to go). It will be the third straight year we've made the trip with Jordan.

It's gotten to the point where I am constantly asked about my favorite Paris stops. Those who take my recommendations are rarely disappointed.

paris with kids, paris with toddler
Paris with Jordan & a new friend at the Trocadero, 2012
I believe that traveling well is a sport. In the next few weeks, I'll be sharing some of my favorite Parisian adventures with you. From where to eat and sleep to secret shops and brocantes, I'll be spilling all my Parisian beans. Pardon, haricots. I'll even tell you how to get to Normandy and Champagne, the latter being a monumentally more difficult affair than it should be.

Heading To Paris Soon? 
I've written about Paris a ton: Here's how to rent a Paris apartment.  Paris avec bebe. And with a baby again. Looking for a great app to keep up to speed with Paris happenings? Hotel Pavillon des Lettres has you covered. Just search "Paris" on my blog and you'll find a bounty of travel treasures.



Explore Some Favorite Parisian Finds


Friday, September 19, 2014

Why 30 Minutes of Exercise a Day Will Change Your Life

exercise, 30-minute workouts

Whether it's aerobic exercise, yoga or weight lifting workouts, exercising for as little as 30 minutes a day will change your life. Weight loss aside, exercise makes you feel better, look better and improves your health. You could consider is medicinal.

I promise.

All it takes is 30 minutes most days of the week. That's it. Really.  In the time it takes you to watch half of "The Bachelor" or an old episode of "Sex and The City" you can squeeze in a workout and save your life.

If you're a relatively healthy adult, there is no excuse.

RELATED: Is there such a thing as "negative calorie foods"? An expert weighs in.

You can greatly improve your health with the 30-minutes a day mantra. Gretchen Reynolds reiterated this in the New York Times Magazine in a Q & A titled Double the Workout, Double the Benefits?
In a notable study from 2011, people of all ages who exercised very moderately, for about 15 minutes a day, or approximately half of your current regimen, reduced their risk of dying prematurely by about 14 percent, or the equivalent of three additional years of life. Those whose workouts were twice as long — like yours, 30 minutes per day — saw an additional drop in the risk of premature death, but only by 4 percent. Using that data, other scientists have estimated that people who go really big with their workouts, increasing their exercise time from 50 minutes per day to 120 minutes per day — a 140 percent increase — achieve only about a 5 percent added decrease in their risk of dying too young.
Exercise beyond a certain level may even be counterproductive. When researchers tracked 52,000 adults for 15 years, those who ran 5 to 20 miles a week at a fairly pokey pace of about 9 to 10 minutes a mile received the optimal mortality benefits, the study authors write. The fastest runners and those who completed the most miles every week did not live significantly longer, on average, than people who didn’t run at all. 

Yes, You HAVE the Time to Exercise 30 Minutes a Day!

Every day, I meet women and men every who ask me how I squeeze in my workouts.  I have made it clear that exercise is my "non-negotiable".  I don't give those up.  I get at least five workouts in a week.

weighted hula hoop, hula hoop,
Empower Weighted Hoop - LOVE this
But here's the thing: they aren't always ball-busting, go-all-out-affairs.  Some days it's a brisk walk, a treadmill run, yoga, pilates, hula hooping or a quick weight workout.  

Recently, I was in a time crunch, so I walked 10 minutes to the park with my daughter and the dog.  While she was playing, I jumped rope for about 20 minutes, on and off, and walked back home.  That was a quick workout that also allowed me to spend time with the kid.  She had fun watching me jump rope, as well. 

The majority of us aren't professional athletes, models or actors.  We don't need to "look a certain way" for the cameras or be able to dunk a basketball.  But we DO need our bodies to work for us in every day life: lifting the kids, moving furniture, running up stairs, even getting in and out of chairs. 

A simple 30-minute session of exercise will get the blood flowing, stretch and strengthen your muscles and make you feel better mentally, too.


Great 30-Minute Workout Options



When you're pressed for time, what is your favorite way to exercise?

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How To Determine What Type Of Protein Powder Is Right For You

Protein powders are a quick and convenient source of quality, complete protein. If you're a growing teenager it's a good way to fuel workouts. If you're just starting a workout program and trying to build new muscle, you'll need more protein than normal. If you're amping up your workouts, recovering from an injury or going vegan, a protein powder is a good option to consider. 

But there are so many options out there! Still trying to figure out your whey from your casein? And what about egg white, rice and pea (really!) protein?

Here's a simple cheat sheet to help you navigate the overwhelming minefield that can be the protein powder aisle. 

Share it, Pin it, Tweet it, Facebook it. This is an outstanding cheat sheet from Health Perch to help you determine the right protein powder for you.
Friday, September 12, 2014

Splurge or Steal: Gucci's Fall Collection


Gucci, fashion, gucci fall 2014
Click on any item to learn more about it. 

Have you seen Gucci's fall collection? It is full of all sorts of 60's-inspired looks that are beyond fabulous. I love everything about it...except the price.

While I am a believer in investing in quality pieces that last a lifetime, I can't afford to spend $3200 on a dress. So I set out to recreate one of my favorite looks with a more wallet-friendly approach.

What do you think?

Splurge
Gucci Tote, $3800
Gucci Dress, $3200
Gucci Boots, $1450
Gucci Bracelet, $450
Gucci Ring, $430
Gucci Sunglasses, $345

Steal
Tory Burch Tote, $295
Ann Taylor Dress, $169 (50% off this weekend!)
Ivanka Trump Boots, $199
Alexis Bittar Ring, $195
Aqua Clara Bracelet, $50
ASOS Sunglasses, $22.86

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How Not To Look Like A Slob At the Gym


exercise gear for women, workout gear
Click on any item to learn more about it.

As a recovering recovering gym slob, I am always on the lookout for stylish workout gear that can withstand a beating and multiple washings. There are some outstanding pieces you can find to update your fall workout wardrobe which will force you to retire that ratty tank top (you know which one I'm talking about).

I'm sending a slew of my older pieces that are still wearable to Genesis Women's Shelter.

It's also a good time to update your shoes. I typically buy a new pair once a year. I bought these Reebok ZigKick Alphas last year. My eye is on these new Nike cross-trainers. 

Fall Workout Goals
Do you have any fall workout goals? I need to get back on the yoga routine. I think I took only one yoga class the entire summer. My Om was definitely OFF. I like to get at least one class a week, typically on Sundays.

What new workouts or classes are you looking forward to trying in the next few months? 

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

More Diets Tips That Actually Work

When In Doubt Workout Pillow, Motivation, exercise
TRUTH! 

After being skinny, gaining weight, losing weight, gaining weight, losing weight, having a kid, losing the baby weight and more, I feel like I'm a diet expert simply through practice.

After years of trying everything: Atkins, the Zone, the grapefruit diet, Cabbage Soup diet, I could go on. There are principles that I know work: eat well, eat real food, don't overindulge, exercise most days of the week.

There are certain "diet secrets" that work better than others, though. Putting down your fork after each bite, for example, is a gamechanger. I've featured them on the blog.

Fitsugar has a few more diet secrets that are truly effective:
  • Eat clean - no white food, refined carbs, sugar, alcohol, etc.
  • Don't diet - think of adopting an overall, longterm approach to eating, not a temporary "diet"
  • Do more cardio - ramp up the intensity to get that afterburn.
  • Drink more water - hydration is huge. Drink green tea, water with lemon or fruit added, any water-based drink without extra sweetener or calories added to it. 
  • Make calories in less than calories out - if you eat more than you burn, you will gain weight. I gained weight while training for marathons. Even though I was burning hundreds, sometimes thousands, of calories it didn't make up for the extra cookies I ate at lunch. 
  • Eliminate extras - all the little nibbles, sips and snacks add up. 
This is such a practical approach to maintaining your weight (notice I didn't say "diet). If you're looking for a particular dietary approach to follow, try the Mediterranean diet. It's simple, easy, delicious and calls for wine and chocolate. Win!

I love this Mediterranean Diet cookbook for recipe ideas.

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