Sunday, March 30, 2014

Professional Inspiration from Skin Authority CEO Celeste Hilling

Whether by force or by choice, stories of career reinvention intrigue me.  It takes balls moxie for someone to leave a career that is comfortable and stable in pursuit of something unknown yet fulfilling.  To emerge on the other side with a new and successful venture is an accomplishment both inspiring and worthy of sharing. 
Celeste Hilling and her daughter, Kiki
Fifty-five year old Celeste Hilling's career is one such story.  It is a lesson in perseverance, research, diligent work and checking your ego at the door. 

"You get a plan, you get a game plan and you put that plan out there," Celeste told me from her home base in San Diego.  "It's trial and error with a lot of roadblocks along the way."

The Backstory
Celeste made a career change in her 40's.  I joke that while most people are looking for the exit sign, she was starting an entirely new endeavor in a new industry.  She was the President of Compaq's Consumer Software Business Unit and the VP of Compaq's Consumer Division where she managed 42 countries and 14,000 people. Hilling left the high-tech world to work in the luxury spa industry where she was the President and CEO of the Day Spa Group for Steiner Leisure Ltd.  

While working in the spa industry, she saw a need in the market for skincare products rooted in science that offer real health benefits.  Skin Authority was born.  The thing that I like about Skin Authority is that it's not just about products.  The company believes that healthy, beautiful skin isn't solely the result of topical treatments (which certainly help...look what they did for my neck).  Skin Authority embraces a multi-pronged approach to beauty, understanding the importance of a quality diet and an overall healthy lifestyle as it relates to beauty.  That's something I appreciate.
Skin Authority Wrinkle Reversing Serum
Skin Authority Wrinkle Reversing Serum
Doing Homework
"When I resigned from Compaq, I didn't jump right into a business," she said.

"It was really about doing homework, going out and talking to people in the industry, everyone from Dr. Murad to Dr. Perricone, people who ran spas, asking 'If you were starting your business today what would you do differently?"

Her advice to someone who is considering a career change? 

"Really do that homework to educate yourself to determine where the real opportunity is," she suggests.

Check that Ego at the Door
Don't be afraid to learn where that opportunity lies, even if it might lead to awkward moments.

"It was tough because you go from doing something like being one of the first female officers of a high tech company to working the front desk of a 1,900 square foot spa in La Jolla," she admits. 

"I actually had an ex-Compaq employee who came in and looked at me like, 'Oh what a fall from grace!'  I thought 'No, I'm building a multimillion dollar company' but nobody looks at it that way," she notes.  

"At the end of the day, those are things you need to do to be successful.  You have to be willing to take a few steps back to educate yourself so that you can be effective and be a leader that understands where the marketplace is." 

Don't Fear Failure
As with any new venture or experience there will be failure.  I am learning this myself and it was nice to hear Celeste reinforce what I believe: failure is an opportunity but be smart about it. 

"When you're building a new model some things work and some things don't," Celeste says pragmatically. 

"When a part of the plan fails it doesn't mean that the plan isn't worth it.  I think you just have to have that fuel, that passion and that self-belief.  But also, you don't want to be ignorant when you fail.  You want to reevaluate." 

"Yes, I cried with my husband 'What did we do?' because you feel responsible for your money and your family." 

"You have so many dynamics that go into a successful business.  One is your people.  That's always a challenge in that you have amazing people but they rely on you to keep them pumped up and fired up as you're building a business.  That's energy you have to have to not only fuel yourself when you hit those bumps but fuel everyone following."  

And what about when that inevitable self-doubt creeps up? 

"You have to know your own voice," she says.  "If it hadn't been done before people will tell you it can't be done.  You just have to step out and be bold and make it happen."

The Takeaway
In this era of women seemingly hating other women in the workplace (trust me...I can tell you ALL about that), I believe it's important to celebrate success stories.  I hope you can glean some inspiration from her story like I did.

To learn about her beauty secrets, check out

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Healthy Tex-Mex at Home

I'm on a mission to change the way we approach eating Tex-Mex food.  Sure, you can still enjoy quesadillas, nachos and chimichangas.  Occasionally.  If Tex-Mex is a staple of your diet, think 3-4 times per week, make it your goal to eat the healthier options that are available.

Don't believe that's possible?  You're wrong.  Try an all-natural margarita.  You won't go back to the fake, corn syrup-laden nuclear green garbage or skinny slop.

Eating out?  Enjoy these delicious appetizers.  What about your entree?  Here are multitude of options to satisfy your craving.

Don't want to deal with the hassle of going out?  Try some of these great at-home recipes.

Prepare Your Pico

Image via Hajor
Have a bowl pico de gallo on hand.  It's easy to make and a wonderful accompaniment to any Tex-Mex dish or as a topping for your salad.  The simpler the recipe the better.  This one is great.

Nacho Casserole

Recently I made a wonderful Nacho Casserole from Mind Over Munch.  I swapped lean ground turkey for the ground beef and baked blue corn tortillas for original.  It was awesome, impressing my hard-to-impress Tex-Mexpert of a brother.

You can make a simple nacho recipe with baked chips, low-fat Mexican blend cheese, beans and jalapenos.  Add sliced grilled chicken.  Top with nonfat Greek yogurt and serve with salsa and guacamole or sliced avocado.

Enjoy Enchiladas
Craving enchiladas?  Cooking Light has a FABULOUS Cheesy Enchilada recipe.  I even blogged about how wonderful it was.

Image via
Alas, I have lost my photos from the experiment.

A Healthier Quesadilla
I love quesadillas but not the calories and fat that accompany them.  You can make a wonderful version that is figure friendly.
La Tortilla Factory Low Carb Whole Wheat Tortilla
Try La Tortilla Factory Low Carb Whole Wheat Tortilla with either some low-fat Mexican blend cheese or shredded string cheese.  Add whatever veggies you like: broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, you get the idea.  Nuke it in the microwave for a minute.  Once it's done throw some spinach, avocado and salsa or pico de gallo on there.  Maybe some jalapenos.  It's better than you think.  Promise.

The Takeaway
From portion size to the stupidity of the menu items (bacon guacamole?) I am still trying to figure out how Tex-Mex got so out of control.  At it's core, Mexican food is comprised of wonderful produce and lean proteins.  Sure there are some starchy carbs in the form of corn tortillas and rice but think of those as complements to your meal, not the bulk of it.  Enjoy the cheese, too, but take the same approach with it as you do the starches: have it complement the the meal, not dominate it.

Once in a while blow it out.  Have those cheese enchiladas smothered in sauce, Bob Armstrong Dip or chile rellenos.  Enjoying those are a part of the Tex-Mex experience.  Don't make it a daily thing.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Healthy Options in Tex-Mex Restaurants: Entree Edition

Could you eat a jumbo chicken burrito slathered in queso every day?  How about cheese and spinach enchiladas with ranchero sauce?  Me?  Yes and yes.

But we know that eating that way on a consistent basis is not the foundation of a quality diet.  Given that we eat Tex-Mex so much in Texas, it is worth finding qualities staples at our favorite restaurants that keep our diets on track and don't have us eating 1000-calorie meals.

Image via
Monday we focused on margaritas.  Tuesday we tackled starters.  Now let's enjoy our entrees. You can eat relatively healthy entrees in Tex-Mex restaurants.  Order fajitas with light cheese and no sour cream or salads without cheese and fried tortilla strips are always a good choice.  Grilled fish tacos are also a nice option.

Always consider splitting an entree.  When you order a guacamole or other healthy appetizer, you have already enjoyed a fair amount of food.  The Tex-Mex portions are typically huge and big enough to share.

Let's dive a bit further with specific menu items at area restaurants:

Image via
  • Ensalada Grande - delicious with the grilled portobello mushroom and salsa for dressing. 
  • Soft Taco Plate - get black beans instead of refried.
  • Vegetable Fajitas - ask for no butter.
  • Mesquite Grilled Salmon 
Mi Cocina 
  • Rico Salad - comes with fajita chicken or steak.  Try the spicy blue cheese dressing on the side or just enjoy salsa with your salad.  
  • Tacos al Carbon - typically a good choice at any restaurant.
  • Pauley's - sub the beef with chicken and borracho beans in place of refried beans.  
  • Tilapia Vera Cruz or Salmon a la Parilla - both quality seafood dishes.
  • Quinceañera Salad 
  • Tacos de Pescado - nix the cheese. 
  • Pechugo de Pollo - again, nix the cheese, enjoy it with their delicious green salsa.
  • Ensalada de Espinaca - enjoy with chicken or shrimp. 
  • Jorge - get it with chicken and corn tortillas.
  • Carne Asada - nix the sour cream.
Mattito's  - they make it easy with a ❤ next to their "healthier" items.
  • Lite Fajitas - these are served with broccoli and cauliflower.  Delicious!
  • De Marisco Salad - shrimp, salmon or scallops over a bed of greens.
  • Pollo con Salsa Maiz - chicken with a tasty black bean sauce and a healthy serving of veggies.
  • Enchiladas de Hongos - sauteed mushroom enchiladas served with a spicy Cascabel sauce, black beans and corn pepper salad.
  • Veggie Enchilada Plate - order it with black beans and veggies, top with green tomatillo sauce.
  • Pechuga Parilla - nix the cheese and substitute the refried beans for black or whole beans. 
  • Veggie-Jitas - ask for black or whole beans instead of refried beans.
  • Steve's Steak Tacos 
  • Snapper a la Feliz
Blue Goose - I might have tried my very first margarita here...when I was 15....might.
  • Chipotle Chicken - order with charra beans instead of refried. 
  • Chicken Toluca Salad - nix the jack cheese and bacon. 
  • Verde Enchiladas - this is big enough to split.
The Takeaway
Again, go ahead and enjoy quesadillas and nachos, once in a while.  If dining out in Tex-Mex restaurants is something you do a few times a week, make these healthier choices.  Your waistline will thank you.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

How to Find Healthy Options at Tex-Mex Restaurants: Appetizers

Patio season is here and in Dallas/Fort Worth that also means the season of Tex-Mex and margaritas has officially arrived.  But if you're not careful, you can blow your calorie wad on frozen margaritas and chips before you even order your food.

The buzz about "The Tequila Diet" got my little pea brain swirling: how did Tex-Mex get so fatteningly wrong?

Mexican food, at its core, is pretty healthy.  A Mexican diet is full of beautiful produce, seafood and quality meats. Sure there is corn and fried chips but you can forgo them.  I was married in Mexico and actually lost weight the week I was there while enjoying wonderful food from authentic Mexican chefs.  Here is a sampling of what we enjoyed:

Steak, halibut and vegetables

Grilled shrimp with mango salsa

Salad with parmesan crisp
Tex-Mex takes some liberties with cheese and fried items but I am fully convinced that you CAN find healthy Tex-Mex options and avoid a 1200 calorie meal at MOST restaurants if you look and ask nicely.

Let's start with starters 
I get it.  The fried tortilla chips come on the table and before you even order a drink, you have eaten a basket. You don't even want to know how many calories and fat that are in a basket of chips.

Corn Tortillas
Order non-fried corn tortillas to go along with your salsa and use that as your "starter".  If you really MUST have chips, take five (it's a nice simple number - that's the only reason I picked it) and break the chips in half.  Dunk each one in the salsa and savor it.  Eat slowly and you will enjoy the experience even more.

I order guacamole just about every time I eat Tex-Mex.  It's a wonderful starter.  I usually have that along with tortilla soup or a salad at most restaurants.  With your guacamole, employ the same corn tortilla strategy but tear your warm corn tortillas into quarters.  Top each quarter with some guacamole and salsa.  It's a delicious starter.

Want something even more calorie friendly?  Ask for a sliced tomato and enjoy that with your guacamole.  It's better than you think.

Try ceviche.   Fernando's and Mi Cocina both offer great these amazing appetizers.  Mi Cocina's ceviche is a fresh, delicious blend of citrus juices, shrimp, avocado, mango and jicama.  YUM!

Another great starter is the shrimp appetizer so many restaurants serve.  Pepe & Mito's has a nice shrimp cocktail while La Calle Doce makes a delicious shrimp campechana.

Don't like seafood?  Soups are an outstanding option.  A cup of tortilla soup WITHOUT the cheese and tortilla strips is a great starter.  Matt's Rancho Martinez has a veggie laden tortilla soup that has big chunks of carrots and cauliflower.

The Takeaway
There is no problem indulging in nachos, quesadillas and queso occasionally.  As often as we eat Tex-Mex in Dallas/Fort Worth, it's not smart to indulge that way meal after meal.  Making the produce, seafood and lean meats the bulk of your Tex-Mex diet will help keep your weight in check while enjoying the patio, margaritas and people watching.

Wednesday we'll focus on Tex-Mex entrees.

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The Tequila Diet? Really? Maybe.

Oh my.  This could be the diet that is custom made for patio-craving, Tex-Mex fans across the country, particularly in Dallas/Fort Worth.

Patron Silver
Patron Silver
A new study has found that agavins, the natural sugar found in the agave plant (the plant that produces tequila) can aid in weight loss and help fight diabetes.

Researchers fed mice a standard diet but added agavins to their water.  The mice that consumed the agavin-laden water ate less and had lower overall blood glucose levels.  The study suggests that regular consumption of agavins, say in a sweetener, could help people battling diabetes and assist in weight loss.
There's no agavin sweetener (these sugars are different from agave syrup), so we'll just have to stick with tequila for now which isn't a bad way to indulge in alcohol.  Why?  Because if you're not doing teenage-style tequila shots, you can't slam it.  Tequila is a sipping cocktail.

A Healthier Margarita
Margaritas can be a full-on fat pill when you drink the syrupy sweet sugar bombs.  Additionally, those pre-made low-cal margaritas, sorry SkinnyGirl fans, are just terrible.  Any time I drink them, I have the worst hangovers.

Make an all-natural margarita, using good tequila, and you will never drink from a pre-made mix again.  All you need is three ingredients:
  • 1.5 oz tequila
  • 2 tsp agave nectar 
  • 1 oz lime juice (approx 1/2 of a lime) 
Mix the ingredients by swirling or stirring, to dissolve the agave nectar.  Add enough ice to your favorite margarita glass.  Serve with a salted rim, if desired, and a lime wedge. 

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Clothes That Work Both In AND Out of the Gym

You know my struggle to avoid looking like a sloth at the gym.  Designers are taking note.

Earlier this week, Lululemon announced it's "Function, Meet Fashion" line which offers fashion solutions for our busy lives.  It recognizes that we "don't have time for a wardrobe that keeps forcing you to change".  While I couldn't wear some of these clothes to work, they are perfect for running errands, lunch after a workout and cocktails.

The Here to There Tank top ($58.00) is particularly chic.  It's great for yoga, barre class or pilates and beyond.
Here to There Tank, front view
Here To There Tank, front view/image via

Here to There Tank
Here To There Tank/image via Lululemon 
The tank top is paired with the Here To There Short in blue ($54.00).  It also comes in black.  Adorable. Interestingly, the size 4's in both the tank and shorts are already sold out on  Those Lulu lovers are tiny!

Here are a few more looks that offer style and function both in and out of the gym.

Athleta is a fashion forward fitnesswear line with a tad higher price point but worth it.  Their clothes are definitely dual-purpose.  They offer free shipping over $50.

Athleta Mix and Mingle Skirt, $59.99
This Athleta skirt is a wonderful versatile option in a breathable "Teelicious" fabric.  It comes in a variety of colors ranging from basic black to an on-trend radiant orchid.  You can wear this on a powerwalk or over yoga shorts after a workout.

Athleta Orinda Top, $44.99
Athleta Orinda Top, $44.99
There are some incredibly stylish tops you can pair with the skirt, like this Orinda long sleeve top by Athleta in teaberry

Athleta Second Chance Cami, $24.99
Athleta Second Chance Cami, $24.99
If you're looking for something more revealing, how about Athleta's Second Chance Cami Support top in fuschia.  I love so much of what they do.  They design clothes with the modern, fit and busy woman in mind.

Target is bringing it for Spring, too.  They also offer free shipping with a $50 minimum purchase.

C9 by Champion Fit and Flare Tank Top, $19.99
C9 by Champion Fit and Flare Tank Top, $19.99
How cute is this C9 by Champion Fit and Flare Tank Top?  It comes in a range of pretty Spring colors and is only $19.99!

C9 by Champion Long Sleeve Yoga T-Shirt, $24.99
C9 by Champion Long Sleeve Yoga T-Shirt, $24.99

You can throw this long sleeve yoga t-shirt over it for some warmth.

C9 by Champion Everyday Fitted Pant, $18.68
C9 by Champion Everyday Fitted Pant, $18.68
Wear the whole look with some sleek black fitted pants like these and I think you're in great shape for almost any casual setting.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Dallas Cowboys TwitterView with Gavin Escobar and Jeff Heath

Like any rookies, Gavin Escobar and Jeff Heath had quite the learning curve their first season in the NFL with the Cowboys last year.  Find out what that was AND why Heath could have a future as a TV producer in our Dallas Cowboys TwitterView.

Have a question for a player you would like to see featured in an upcoming Cowboys TwitterView?  Leave a note in the comments section.

This particular story was shot at iFly in Frisco after our first-ever attempt at indoor skydiving.  Read my review of iFly here.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

What to Wear to a Mavs Game, St. Patrick's Day Edition

The Mavericks are fresh off a big win over Oklahoma City Sunday night.  YES, the Thunder was without three starters, including Russell Westbrook.  I don't care.  Dallas ended an 11-game losing streak to Kevin Durant and company but there's no time to revel in that victory.  The Mavs are back at the AAC Monday to host the Celtics which presents.....a fashion conundrum.

Dallas Mavericks Women's Solid Slim Fit V-Neck T-Shirt

Think about it: It's St. Patricks Day.  The day we are supposed to wear green.  The Celtics are THE team that was founded on the luck of the Irish!  When you think of them, you envision their green uniforms, the clover and leprechaun.

Boston Celtics T-Shirt

So what should the St. Patrick's Day-loving Mavs fan wear to a game like this one?  My daughter and I are actually going to the game.  I think this is a great night to break out a Mavericks t-shirt.  The good thing is that there are cute options for even the most sartorial Mavs fan.

Dallas Mavericks T-Shirt Options
Any of those t-shirts would pair well with skinny jeans like these from Rich and Skinny and a cute black blazer like this one from Asos (it's only $53!).

If all else fails and you can't find any colors that work, you can always wear Mavs jewelry.  Sure, some of it is cheesy but I found a cute pendant from Kohl's.

Dallas Mavericks Sterling Silver Pendant
Dallas Mavericks Pendant
It's on sale for $140, still pricey for sterling silver but it's the most stylish one I have seen.   Here's a more affordable version for $24.

What You Need to Know About the Mavs/Celtics Game

  • The Mavericks have won six of their last seven games against the Celtics, as well as the last three at the American Airlines Center.  
  • Dirk Nowitzki plays really well against Boston, averaging 26.5 points per game in 28 starts against the Celtics.  That is his highest scoring average against any opponent. 
  • Boston is terrible with a 22-45 record this season, 8-24 on the road.  The Celtics have lost four in a row, including an overtime loss to New Orleans on Sunday. 
  • Dallas is 40-27, 21-10 at home.  The Mavericks are currently 7th in the Western Conference, a half-game ahead of Memphis and just a game and a half ahead of 9th place Phoenix.  Meaning with 15 games left in the season, every game counts.  

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

iFly Dallas Indoor Skydiving Review

Have you had the urge to skydive but are too scared to jump out of a perfectly good airplane?  Then iFly Indoor Skydiving might just be your speed.

I had the chance to experience indoor skydiving with Cowboys players Jeff Heath and Gavin Escobar for a story. Shooting the story at iFly in Frisco was actually Jeff's idea and it was a brilliant one.

Candidly, I had no clue what to expect and I thought I might lose my lunch.  Turns out the experience was the most fun four minutes I have had in a long time.

What Exactly is iFly?
The iFly concept delivers true free fall conditions in a huge wind tunnel which is similar to the ones members of military and professional skydivers use for training.

You fly in an enclosed flight chamber which has fans that generate wind speeds in excess of 175 miles per hour and let you experience true weightlessness.
The iFly Dallas Experience 
Before you can fly, you have to go through a thorough, yet simple training session.  None of it is too complicated. Our instructor was engaging and made sure everyone in our training session, which included a child under 10, understood the hand signals and correct body positioning required for our flights.

It shocked me to learn that people as young as three years old can participate.

Jeff Heath, me and Gavin Escobar in "uniform"
Once we gear up in what I must admit are uniforms that do a body no favors, our "class" entered the wind tunnel seating area.  The wind tunnel is quite loud.  You really can't hear anyone if you try to talk.

Jeff Heath flying
Each of us received a flying session with our instructor that lasted about 90 seconds to two minutes.  During the first session, our instructor guided us the entire time.

After everyone flies once, we go again.  Each of us paid for the "high-fly" package which allowed us to fly high up into the tunnel.  In the second go-round we were able to fly unassisted, lying horizontal similar to Superman.

Our photographer, Daniel Royas, flying
We weren't able to do any crazy, acrobatic maneuvers that the flight instructors are capable of performing.  We were just lucky to remain horizontal and not run into the wall.

What It's Like 
In short: it's amazing.  I could not stop smiling the entire time while in flight.  Both Gavin and Jeff thought it was awesome, too.  I never once felt queasy.  It's truly that free feeling of flying with a cool wind blowing in your face. Just spectacular.

The instructor indicated we might be sore the next day because we were using back and abdominal muscles we typically don't engage.  While the flight is a workout, there was no soreness at all.  I felt fine.

The only downside is that the actually flying time is pretty short, roughly less than five minutes. Everyone in my group was a first-timer, so we participated in the First Time Flyer package which included the training session and gear rental. There are also Return Flyer and Experienced Flyer packages.  You can purchase up to one continuous hour of flying time.

The Cost 
Because we were shooting a story, the team at iFly was nice enough to give us a complimentary session.  A First Time Flyer family package for five people (the one we had) is $269.95.  The same package for a single person is $59.95.

I would do this on my own in a heartbeat.  It was the experience of a lifetime that I can't wait to try again.

The Details 
iFly Indoor Skyding is located at 8380 SH 121 in Frisco.  It's right off 121.  You can't miss it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Three Awesome Exercise Machines You Probably Aren't Using But Should Be

There seems to be a new machine at the gym almost daily.  The thing is, we tend to get in an exercise rut and stick with the machines that we know and love.  Over time, doing the same thing repeatedly doesn't challenge us that much.

Time magazine lists three pieces of gym equipment we aren't using but should be.  Two of these are some of my favorites.

The Rowing Machine - This is a favorite of mine!

A great rowing machine workout guide
A great rowing machine workout guide
You can torch serious calories on this AND tone your back muscles AKA "fight bra fat".  Check out the rowing machine workout guide to get an idea of ways to create and effective program.

The Stair Climber or StairMaster - It's one of my gym go-to's.  You can always ramp up the intensity to get a good interval workout.
StairMaster Stepmill 3
StairMaster Stepmill 3
It's a booty kick AND, according to Kansas City exercise physiologist Greg Justice, you can burn more calories on this machine than walking on a treadmill at the same pace because you're using more muscles.

Suspension Trainers - these were just installed in my gym.  Candidly, I haven't even tried to use them because I don't know how.  

Image via Gilt City
According to the article, you can get a nice total body strengthening workout in a relatively short period of time.

The Takeaway
Don't be afraid to try new equipment or a new workout.  It gets you out of your comfort zone, challenges your body and might just reinvigorate you.

Time to follow my own advice and get a TRX Trainer lesson!

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