Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Path To Health & Wellness: FASTer Way To Fat Loss

This is one of those posts that I have thought awhile about sharing, but because of its personal nature I have hesitated. This week my friend Jennifer Lovin, who must have been reading my mind, texted me, encouraging me to share. She said I had done the work so it was time to show the results. Since she is the person that inspired me to get on this path to health and wellness, it seemed like the perfect time to share.

Since April I have been participating in a online fitness program, FASTer Way To Fat Loss. Yes, an online fitness and exercise program. Since then, I have lost 12 pounds, 5 inches in my waist and gained muscle tone, strength and more confidence than I have had in a long time. I sleep great, I feel strong, and I am wearing things that I have not fit me in a long time. My closet has become a new world to me.

I am a fashion writer and I love stylish things. I have been following trends and writing about fashion for the past five years, but have been a lifetime lover of style. But, I have struggled with both health problems (IBS--yay) and the inability to figure out what to eat and how to exercise to get back to being me again. I learned to disguise my issues through how I dressed, but the basic problems never went away. I felt trapped. In a world of beautiful clothes, there were many things I couldn't wear and more importantly I often didn't feel well. It was like looking in from the outside. At 55 I am already at somewhat of a disadvantage in the world of youth and fashion. Or at least that is what I thought. No longer.

Being the busy mother to two teenagers and working part time gave me plenty of reasons to use the excuse that walking the dog was a form of exercise. I bought a FitBit. I rejoined the gym. I am a talented home cook and we have always eaten mostly whole foods and I cook healthy family dinners probably five days a week, but still I struggled.  It was time to think differently, to try something new and to be open to seeing health and nutrition in a new light. I decided I wasn't going to take mid life lying down, I wasn't going to accept that "that's what happens when you get older". Nope. It was time to take control.

Back in April when my family and I were in Hawaii, I wasn't feeling great or confident or myself. There is nothing like swimwear to make you face reality. Once I had read Jennifer's post, I texted her and after we talked and I was in. And I haven't looked back. The FASTer Way To Fat Loss six week program uses intermittent fasting and carb cycling to works with your body, coordinating workouts that go with each day's "theme" so to speak. There are low carb days, typically the most difficult for me because it is more restrictive, regular calorie days, low calorie days and all of it is combined with workouts. Each program is tailored to you and your needs, tracking your food on the MyFitnessPal app. At first, I was NOT thrilled about tracking food and now I can't imagine not doing it, it is second nature. Knowledge is power, my friend, and it is really a great tool.

The program, by Amanda Tress, uses private Facebook groups to group clients going through the same program at the same time. Through Facebook, Amanda provides weekly exercise plans with corresponding dietary guidelines. The private members only as a significant motivator and you are expected to check-in daily to maintain accountability.  The support and intimacy of the group, including Amanda and her couches checking in daily, solidifies the program and its strength both for individuals and as a collective group. The groups include women for all over the country, from fitness buffs, to new moms, to people like me.

The benefits for me, now in my second round of this program (I did back to back sessions to solidify my knowledge) is that my IBS has all but disappeared, I feel healthy and strong and I am me again. It isn't just the weight loss, although I am not going to lie, that has been incredible for me, but also the way I now understand nutrition and how to eat well all the time. And I love my bubbly and rose and believe me, I have not given them up. This program works seamlessly into a real life, and that is why it works. As Amanda says, "Progress, not perfection", and that is truly the premise behind this whole thing.

There is nothing better than being your best self, and knowing that you made the decision to make things better and did the work to get there.

Have a great week, my friends, and feel free to message me with any questions. Cheers to health and happiness.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Packing For Paris

This post is going to be short and sweet, because I actually AM packing for Paris at the moment!

My teenage daughter, Gracie, has been in France since June 15th on an exchange with her French II class. Last April we hosted a lovely guest from Nante, France, Pauline, and now Gracie is with Pauline's family. She started her trip with five days in Paris and will meet me there at the end of her stay with her host family. I am lucky enough to be able to fly over and meet her for a week of girl time in the beautiful City of Light. I am over the moon with excitement!

Although this is my fifth visit to Paris, when I was there in the summer last year it was not nearly as warm as it will be when I arrive. Typically I pack a day or two ahead of time for trips, then re-evaluate what I packed and take a few things out. After all, I need room for some Paris shopping treasures...right?  ;) Here are a few things I am taking with me on my trip that are also pieces I will wear over and over again when I get back to life in Seattle.

Nike Blazer Low Top Sneakers

Cool sneakers are the perfect shoe for walking the city in style. The Nordstrom x Nike shop in the flagship store mixes high fashion and exclusive or new release Nike pieces for a stellar mix of style and substance. These Nike Blazer Low Top Sneakers are a remake of their classic 70s basketball shoe, with modern details like perforated leather and gold details. They will be walking the walk through the Paris streets, both with dresses and denim.They are really lightweight too, so they are perfect to pack.  I also loved the All Court 2 Sneakers, pictured below, both in the cream and the pink. The textured open weave of these babies makes for a surprising bit of the feminine along with street smarts.

Nike All Court 2 Sneakers

Warm days are lovely but often nights are cool, and a lighter jacket is always a good idea. I am a big fan of Intermix, with their mix of edgy pieces, up and coming designers, and established luxury. When they have a sale, I always take notice. Last weekend I swung into the Intermix Bellevue store where I found a couple sale pieces perfect for the trip, including this killer jacket from Harvey Faircloth. The navy satin peplum hem lined with a red border brings this khaki field jacket up a notch, and you had me at fabric covered buttons. You can find this beauty right here.

Harvey Faircloth Satin Peplum Khaki Field Jacket

Nomia Lace Shoulder Top. Image courtesy of RIZOM

Truly one of my favorite stores in Seattle is RIZOM. The store hosts a series of beautiful pieces from a variety of designers in a perfectly curated collection whose originality continues to enchant me. I could take the whole store home with me, but have limited myself to several choices instead, including the Nomia Laced Shoulder Top. The beautiful creamy white and grommet one shoulder strap make this a perfectly understated chic piece. I have featured it before on the blog, it is just too good to not pack.

Silver Dora Pants. Photo courtesy of RIZOM and Silvae.

Also at RIZOM, Deborah Roberts and her gorgeous line, Silvae. The Dora Pants are woven culottes in light blue denim with inverted box pleats at the front waist that make the pants almost look like a skirt. The high waist means even I can rock a top with a shorter crop. These pants are head turning and fabulous, so they need to head to Paris too.

M.Patmos Maria Camisole. Image courtesy of Flora and Henri

A couple of weeks ago the iconic Seattle store, Flora and Henri, opened up the doors of their new and gorgeous brick and mortar in Pioneer Square. The new space holds not only their beautiful children's line but clothing for women, mens accessories and a fab array of gifts and home items. I bought the M.Patmos Maria Camisole on my visit. The fringe and pom pom details give this sophisticated piece just the right amount of whimsy. Gorgeousness x 10.

Finally, what is a trip without a great bag? I bought this En Shalla Ocean Rafia Tote in raffia and cotton with a fun metallic thread throughout. It is a great tote to pack because it is can be made to be completely flat in your suitcase. Made from recycled rice bags, I got mine at Baby and Company. You can also find it on sale at Anthropologie. 

Ok maybe this wasn't short and sweet, but there is much to share. Back to packing. 
Je t'aims Paris. xx

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Hello Summer!

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

Not long ago I attended an event where I was talking to an acquaintance and he commented that I "lead a charmed life".  I understood it to be a compliment, but the comment has stuck with me. I kept thinking about how each of us choose to be perceived through our social media, or lack thereof, our clothing, our writing and many other ways in which we share with the world something about ourselves. I always have said, "Well, I don't Instagram doing laundry", half jokingly, but then it made me think that maybe I should. The reality is I do have a charmed life, and I am grateful. But I also have many challenges too, like we all do.

This past month has been a true test of my strength. The needs of my both of my children have been great recently, and I have been challenged in the knowledge that while both of my kids struggles were different, they also were things that I had little power over. That is hard thing to swallow as a parent. I would do anything for my children. They are my life. My son has been battling a difficult case of mono, which has kept him from his final month of school and isolated both him and me. Not exactly something that you post on Instagram.

If anything this time has taught me that I need to trust my instincts. It has made me value my time with my children. It has forced me to slow down. If I have been disappointed by people that I had expected that I could count on the most, I have also been treated with kindness and thoughtfulness from unexpected places. It has taken this devastating time for me to understand that while some things remain out of my control, it is up to me to see the positive in this. It is time to look forward into the sunny summer months with a renewed sense of what a charmed life is. Family. Love. Strength. Positivity. Friendship. Grace. Gratitude.

And now onto something that always makes me

This photoshoot was one of my favorites for several reasons. I had left my son home to sleep while Krissi and her son Miles and I, the usual gang of three that we are, dashed to the beach for photos. Miles busied himself collecting shells and beach treasures and found a special one for Oliver to help him feel better. There is something about the ocean that makes everything seem peaceful and balanced. And I love Krissi. She is a talented photographer, a long time friend. But her true talent lies in how she sees the world, with love and humor. She is one of a kind.

As is my style, I had a mix of high/low fashion that made this outfit very me. I had spotted this frayed denim online at Zara, but sometimes things don't translate quite as cool in real life. That was not the case with these jeans, which I was able to try on in the store and fell in love with! They have a mid rise waist and the fringed open fronts on the legs are awesome. I am not seeing my denim online currently, but this pair is very similar.

Because the denim is so distressed and casual, I like wearing a dressier top to play off as an opposite. A couple of weeks ago I visited Rizom, where Deborah Roberts, the designer of SILVAE, helped me pick out some things to wear for my anniversary dinner. I had to stop myself from buying out the store, but went back recently for this Nomia NYC Laced One Shoulder blouse, because I could not stop thinking about it.  It is the most beautiful creamy white and its simple chic style suited me perfectly.

My closet would not be the same without designer consignment. It has introduced me to labels and designers that are things I would not normally have either the access or the funds to own. I have learned so much about the beauty of well made clothing. I have worked for Mary Bridget Pehl of MB Finds for a very long time and am always amazed at her talent and eye for great things. An Hermès belt has been on my wish list, so when Mary Bridget got one in, in my size, I scooped it up. It was meant to be! :)

I live on Queen Anne in Seattle and walk along the main street every day with my dog, Henri. My friend and fellow fashion blogger, Kirsty of The Kirsty Files owns a lovely little shop with her husband, Queen Anne Frame and Gift. Kirsty buys the coolest things for the store and one of them was this hat. It sat in the window beckoning me each day and I finally went in and bought it. I don't think I have taken it off since. If you are a hat person like I am, a straw fedora is the perfect summer lid.

I am loving the denim on denim trend that is happening right now, and especially all the great summer shoes in denim. While I didn't have these Steve Madden Victorya Sandals on for very long on the actual beach, I wore them all day afterwards. The on trend round heel, embroidered details and wrap ties are spot on for summer dressing. I scored these babies at DSW and you can too!

Cheers to a healthy and happy summer! xx

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Other Birkin Bag: Jane Birkin and The Wicker Basket

Most of us are familiar with the legendary Hermès Birkin bag, named after the style icon Jane Birkin. But it was Jane Birkin's simple woven straw basket, which she carried everywhere from black tie events to the market, that began the making of a fashion story that continues today.

In 1981 the fashion "It Girl" was by chance seated on a flight next Hermès chief executive, Jean-Louis Dumas. When Birkin placed her straw basket in the overhead compartment everything fell out. This prompted a discussion with Dumas about the difficulty of finding a stylish bag big enough for all her things. Together they began designing a bag, and a legend was born. Incidentally, Birkin only owns one of her namesake bags, because why would you need more than one? No Kardashian excess here. I love her.

Jane Birkin with her signature Birkin Basket

Jane Birkin's originality and natural je ne sais quoi made her a fashion legend and her style is both enviable and endlessly copied. Through her heyday of the 70s to today, Birkin's style continues to inspire and her "Birkin Basket Bag" has yet again become a statement of style. The Birkin Basket bag has reappeared again this summer, so much that the simple tote has sold out already from several sites and again made the list of it bags.

Even before I became enamored with the Birkin Basket, I have been a big fan of summer's wicker bags. Here are five of my favorites, perfect for sunny days ahead!

1. The Linderoth Design Birkin Basket

Linderoth Design Birkin Baskets

When an email with these little babies landed in my Inbox from the ever tempting ShopBazaar, I was more than smitten. I love the chic little colored leather handle, a modern nod to the original Birkin Basket.

2. Clare V. Alice Woven Bag

Clare V. Alice Navy Woven Bag

I am kind of obsesseed with round bags, and even more so with Clare V. Her bags are so cool and modern, and they always hit the mark. I love the structure of the Clare V. Alice bag, and the navy is pure French chic.

3. WaiWai Betina Bag

The WaiWai Betina Bag

This is an investment summer bag, but with good reason. The pop of color acrylic top and suede interior of the WaiWai Betina Bag lend a luxury spin to summer's lighthearted handbag.

4. Etsy Birkin Baskets

DreamBaskets Birkin Basket

Etsy has a ton of Birkin Basket inspired handbags, in a range from $40 to $200. The ones from Portugal with attached handles are the closest to the original, and you can find them in all sizes, some embellished with pom poms!

5. Zara Raffia Bucket Bag

Zara Raffia Bucket Bag

Zara's wicker bucket style cross body has a cheeky lining make this a fabulous little cheap thrill. The lighter raffia color is spot on for summer's lighter hues.

And speaking of cheap thrills, I scored the most charming little bag ever while standing waiting for my daughter at Buffalo Exchange. I can't believe someone consigned it because it is so darling, and in pristine condition. Plus, it was $12! This little gem has been traveling all over the city this week with me. I love the tiny wicker bow and cloth drawstring lining. It has become my new summer favorite.

Whether you want to follow in the footsteps of the chic Jane Birkin or make your own modern statement, it is time to lighten up your handbag look for summer. Happy hunting! xx