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Dying To Go On A Vacay That Won’t Wreck Your Bod? Meet Celebrity Cruises

Written on May 9, 2014 at 3:25 pm , by

Full disclosure: I fall off the clean-eating wagon when I travel. Between the lack of healthy options at the airport, food chains and room service (eek) plus my mental shift to the “I’m on vacation!” mind-set, I go from feeling great pre-trip to indulging and bloating up after just one day. And when it comes to keeping up with my daily sweat sessions, I always feel torn when I’m at the gym in the middle of paradise. I feel like I should be exploring, sightseeing or relaxing. The pressure of trying to maintain my good habits when I’m out of my typical environment ends up stressing me out, which is the exact opposite of what a vacation should do. Recently, I stumbled upon a stress-free solution: a vacay that supports a healthy and active lifestyle without missing the fun that goes along with getting away on a Celebrity Cruise.

I recently took one of the company’s Reflection cruises to the Caribbean (tough job, I know). I had never been on a cruise ship before so I had no idea what to expect, but I was impressed. A Celebrity Cruise is a fit girl’s dream. There are several different packages available but their AquaClass caters to a healthy lifestyle. Here, the highlights:

Accommodations:
I assumed the rooms would be tiny with bunk beds. I blame it on watching Titanic too many times. But the spacious room—301 square feet—was almost the size of my entire New York City apartment and it included a 79-square foot veranda, perfect for getting fresh air and admiring the breathtaking views. It was exactly like a room in a luxury hotel. In fact, there were times I forgot I was on a ship! The AquaClass staterooms offer spa elements to help you relax, feel comfortable and stay focused on your goals.

Food:
In AquaClass, you get exclusive access to and priority seating at the specialty restaurant, Blu, which features “clean cuisine” (inspired by light dishes of the Mediterranean which change nightly) and complimentary breakfast each day. You also get a daily delivery of ice, bottled water, tea and fruit. Plus, like other guests, you have access to the main buffet. Now—buffets can sometimes be a nightmare, but this one had many healthy (not to mention yummy!) options.

Workouts/Activities:
No matter which class you are in, every guest gets access to the fitness center on board. This is essential for days when you are at sea. I went everyday and loved it! Instead of being stuck in a basement gym, the 12th story gym featured cardio machines facing floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked expansive and gorgeous views of the endless ocean and each port. This makes a “dreadmill” workout a whole lot less dreadful. Once docked, you also have the option (for a small additional cost) of touring certain destinations through different shore excursions. These vary from mild to strenuous effort and include fun activities like walking tours, snorkeling and swimming, bike adventures and zip lining. These activities offer ways to get in some fitness and enjoy your destination at the same time.

Spa:
As an AquaClass benefit, you receive a personal spa concierge to arrange spa treatments. Celebrity Cruises feature Canyon Ranch Spa Club, one of the world’s leading health and wellness brands, on 10 of their ships. Because I worked out everyday, I booked a massage (bonus: they were offering a discounted price during my stay!) to help ease muscle soreness. When I tell you this massage changed my life, I am not exaggerating. It was amazing! In addition, you get unlimited, complimentary access to the Persian Gardens, which is a relaxation room on board so you can chill out whenever you’d like. If your goal is to get healthier on the trip, you can also opt for various fitness-related services including a basic fitness assessment, an exercise prescription or an exercise program for weight loss for a small additional cost.

Bottom line: This was the first trip I’ve ever went on where I came back feeling lighter, fitter and healthier than before I left. So if you’re someone looking for a way to stay focused on your fitness while enjoying an amazing vacay, this getaway is for you. For more info., head to the Celebrity Cruises website here. For other fit vacation ideas and to get inspired to have your healthiest summer yet, pick up a copy of our July/August issue on stands this June!


Connie Britton: The Secrets Behind Her Gorgeous Skin and Enviable Hair

Written on May 7, 2014 at 9:00 am , by

In real life, Connie Britton is a little different from her Nashville character, Rayna Jaymes—mainly that she’s not a country singer with a drama-packed personal life. But when it comes to beauty, both women have the same MO: glowing skin and to-die-for hair. (Who hasn’t tried to replicate those waves?) We recently chatted with Britton to find out her beauty tricks (spoiler: her go-to skincare product is a classic). Bonus: she let us in on what’s coming up in the last two episodes of Nashville. Tune in tonight, May 7th at 10pm on ABC to find out and click below to watch our interview!


Favorite Find Friday: Fresh Guard by Efferdent

Written on April 25, 2014 at 12:48 pm , by

There’s nothing more beautiful than a gorgeous smile. So to get mine to that level, I endured dozens of whitening treatments, floss nightly and had braces—not once, but twice! (You can read more about that here) Kind of crazy, I know, but since I went through all of that, I know how important it is to properly maintain my teeth with good brushing habits, even more flossing and most importantly—wearing my retainers (possibly the least sexiest thing on the planet, I know). But after my second round of braces, I swore to myself I would never let my teeth shift again, so I wear them every night like a good patient. Because of this, my orthodontist (shout out to Dr. Schulhof!) discovered I was grinding my teeth like a maniac at night. I actually ground holes in my retainers! (Maybe from all the stress of trying to have perfect teeth? Who knows?) So now I wear an additional grind guard as well. I basically look like a football player before bed and I have no idea why my boyfriend still thinks I’m cute. But I digress—the whole point of this is to say that I realized how insanely hard it is to clean a dental device. Each morning, I’d pop my retainers and guard out, and if you know anything about morning breath, then you can imagine what they smell like. I asked my orthodontist how to clean them and he suggested brushing with my toothbrush like you do your teeth. That seemed annoying so I suggested soaking them in mouthwash, but he informed me that doing so would actually dye my retainers, which are clear, so that was out of the question. So I diligently brushed my retainers each morning after my own teeth, but it takes up a lot of extra time. So, based on what you now know about my weird obsession with teeth, I’m sure you can imagine how ecstatic I was when Fresh Guard by Efferdent ($6, drugstores) came across my desk. Like, I was literally squealing. It’s like the Efferdent you always knew of for dentures but made specifically for dental devices like Invisalign, grind guards, retainers or even mouth guards for sports. They come in small Crystal-Light-like packets. You just fill a glass with warm water, pour in the packet and let them sit for five minutes. It contains a special formula that prevents the buildup of icky mouth film, reduces yellowing, helps remove stains and kills 99.9 percent of odor-causing bacteria—aka, my dream come true. As they soak, I brush my teeth, wash my face, put in my contacts and they’re clean! The water goes from blue and bubbly to clear so you know it’s time to take them out. Plus they’re also available in a wipe form, which is super-convenient for traveling or after meals when you’re on the go. I stash these in my purse and suitcase. And the wipes leave behind a fresh mint flavor so, to sum it up—this is one “find” that has put one big smile on my face!


Burt’s Bees Spreads Happiness to Hospital Patients with Makeovers

Written on April 24, 2014 at 5:33 pm , by

While you’re on the hunt for the perfect new spring lip shade, help bring beauty back into the lives of women who are in the hospital with Burt’s Bees’ ‘Hive with Heart’ campaign. From now until June 30th, for every two lip products purchased, Burt’s Bees will donate two of the same products to the Lipstick Angels, a nonprofit that provides patients and seniors with makeovers to remind them they are beautiful no matter what they’re going through. Founded in 2012 by celebrity makeup artist Renata Helfman, the Angels use all natural and healthy products intended to improve the physical and emotional well being of the people who use them. The campaign teamed up with Anna Kendrick for its launch, providing a day of makeovers for City of Hope patients to show firsthand how a little bit of makeup can boost morale and directly relate to the recovery process. You can learn more about the campaign, buy products and even dedicate your purchase to a loved one on the Burt’s Bees website by clicking here.

—Katie Maguire, beauty intern

Heidi Klum Spills Her Secret to Rocking Stilettos and Pampering Her Feet

Written on April 22, 2014 at 2:26 pm , by

Heidi Klum’s got legs-for-days so she could probably get away with never wearing a pair of painful pumps in her life! But as a globally-recognized supermodel and host of television shows, including Project Runway and Germany’s Next Top Model, trend-setting footwear is a part of the biz. And even a stunner like Klum can’t escape the pain that sometimes goes hand-in-hand with a killer pair of shoes. So she’s teamed up with the foot support and care expert, Dr. Scholl’s, to launch their latest series of inserts—the DreamWalk collection. We chatted with Klum about how she takes care of her tootsies and how she takes care of herself, all while juggling a booming career and four super-cute kids.

So obviously you spend a lot of time walking in heels and on your feet all day. How does Dr. Scholl’s play a role in your daily life?
“Well, it is a new role in my life; they were not really on my radar before, like I don’t know why not. You know, from wearing the highest heels for so many years and I just never thought of putting a cushion in my shoe—how stupid? But it makes such a huge difference, when you’re on your feet for 10 to 14 hours a day and I wear more heels than I do flats, in my job I kind of have to. Like if I don’t, people usually say ‘Oh, you’re so much shorter than I thought!’”

So who introduced you to Dr. Scholl’s?
“They did. They came to me and they said, ‘We would like to talk with you about doing a business venture together. We would like to have you do our commercials and our ads’ and I said ‘I wanted to see the product first. I want to see if I like it.’ So they sent me the product and I was just filming Germany’s Next Top Model and I film that for four months and it’s a grueling schedule in terms of being on my feet; it’s probably the hardest. You know, when I do America’s Got Talent, I sit at my desk all day; on Project Runway, I stand on the runway, but then I usually sit in my chair, so it’s fine. Even though sometimes the heels can hurt too when you sit in them too long, it’s also not the most comfortable all day, but when I do Top Model, I’m on my feet the longest. So it was a great time for me to try this. It makes a huge difference because you have that extra arch support. And no one sees that. No one knows, you hide it in your shoe. You stick it down; it doesn’t slide around. It’s in there and it’s perfect.”

On the topic of taking care of your feet, what are some other ways that you get your feet pedicure-ready for spring? 
“I do get a lot of manicures and pedicures. But that also comes with my business. You know, I always think it’s important to have beautiful hands and beautiful feet. You just never know what shoe they’re going to give you and then you have to take your shoes off and they’re like ‘Oh my god!’ You know, in my business, hands and feet always have to look good.”

Do you have a favorite pedicure color?
“It depends on what I’m doing. Like I was just on holiday so I had turquoise, which I loved.”

Is there anything you do at home that’s pampering? Something you do to treat yourself?
“I don’t really have time! I have my hair and makeup team and I trust them. For me, I just eat really well, really healthily; I stay away from bad things. We do smoothies every morning. We cook every day and I try to really rotate the fish and the chicken and the vegetables and the salads. So for me, I try to do everything from the inside to be healthy. And for the beauty department, I let my team take care of that.”

Sometimes a great pair of shoes can make an entire outfit. Do you have a beauty equivalent to that?
“Well, it always depends on the outfit. You have to start with the outfit and then you have to think about what you want to do with your hair. I don’t really have super big lips, so I usually do my eyes bigger than my mouth. Every once in a while, I will do a bold mouth because sometimes it’s like a statement—like a fuchsia or a red. I never really go brown, that doesn’t really go with me, or if it’s too dark, that doesn’t look good on me. I like friendlier colors better.”

We know you travel so much for work, so how do you find time to stay fit?
“Well, when I’m at home with four kids, it’s a workout by itself to be honest. They always want to do something, so I’m always running after them. I was just in the Bahamas, but it wasn’t like a holiday. It was like, ‘Let’s go down the slide! Let’s go do the lazy river! Come in the ocean with me! Can you blow this up? Let’s do a sandcastle! Let’s go chasing!’ You know, it’s always something. So it’s not like I’m just lying there and sunbathing all day; it’s constant. There’s always something they want to do and I understand that. When I have time, I try to run. I have a great treadmill at home and even just to get two miles in, every now and then, makes a huge difference for me. Cardio is important because also it’s good for your heart and when we get older, we have to make sure the heart is with it, too. So it’s not just about being fit in your body. I think it’s important to have a healthy heart too, so you have to keep it pumping!”


#SolveFitnessGirlProblems: How To Make a Blow-Out Last Through Workouts

Written on April 17, 2014 at 2:36 pm , by

“Loving my fab blow-out but sad bc it’ll be gone with the first drop of sweat tomorrow during my early morning workout. #FitnessGirlProblems”

Does this tweet sound familiar? We totally understand your pain. We love hearing about your #FitnessGirlProblems, especially the beauty-related ones, and we love solving them even more. So we started tweeting with the hashtag #SolveFitnessGirlProblems (hopefully you’ve been following!). We’ll send out tips and tricks to beat those fit-girl-specific issues and we want to hear your solutions as well. This edition: how to make a blow-out last through daily workouts.

There’s nothing quite as fabulous as the feeling you get after a fresh blow-out, but we’re not about to sacrifice our sweat-sessions just for a good hair day. And you don’t have to either. After years of balancing beauty and brawn, we’ve picked up a few tried and true tips. To prove you can have your blow-out and work out, too, we embarked on a little exp-hair-iment: get a blow-out to last five days while working out. Here’s how it went down:

Day 1

Day 1: I got a really good workout in first thing in the morning (a sweaty cardio session followed by some lightweight training). I hit the showers and just washed my body, not my hair, then went for a blow-out at Drybar (I saw Scott at the 76th Street location in NYC). Skipping the shampoo will save you time in the locker room and you’ll still get to enjoy the rest of the day or night with a to-die-for style. Don’t feel weird about walking in with greasy, sweat-drenched strands. The stylists are used to it (I, alone, have done it dozens of times) and some places will even offer a second shampoo to make sure you leave squeaky clean. Before bed, I twisted my hair into a loose low bun to preserve the body and waves. I’ve found that high buns leave you with a weird crease in the morning. I like to use Scunci Everyday & Active Flat Hairties ($6, Walmart stores), which won’t dent your hair.

Your low bun doesn’t have to be perfect, just twist it up!

Day 2: my hair post-workout

Day 2: My hair was still looking pretty fresh and since I got in a hard session yesterday before my blow dry, I decided to go easy this day with a Pilates class to minimize sweat as much as I could. I twisted my hair back in a low bun, similar to how I went to bed. I put an extra hair tie around it to make sure it stayed secure through “the Hundred.” Afterward, I donned a shower cap (two of my faves: Sonia Kashuk Couture Shower Cap, ($5, target.com) and DryBar The Morning After Shower Cap ($15, thedrybar.com)) and body showered. Then I shook out my strands and hit my roots with the hairdryer for a minute or two just to reactivate volume and dry up any moisture.

Day 3

Day 3: I was itching to go for a run and didn’t feel like letting my style get in the way. I defaulted back to the same ol’ low bun, but this time, I slipped on a headband to absorb sweat at my hairline. Luckily, the wind blowing through my hair actually helped to keep my strands on the dry side (as opposed to say, a steamy hot yoga class), and after four miles, I felt like I still got a solid workout in. By the third day, I saw my volume was deflating so after a body shower, I spritzed in a volumizing mist. Try Paul Lebrecque Volume Style Root Lifting Spray ($20, paullabrecque.com). Unlike a mousse, this rewets your hair so it breaks the bonds that are keeping it flat. After hitting your roots with some heat for a few minutes to dry, you’re able to pump life back into them.

Switching your part is a great way to add extra volume.

Day 4: Ok, I’m nearing my no-wash limit but it’s almost Friday so I stuck it out. My quads and calves were sore post-run so I decided to stretch things out with a Vinyasa yoga class—low impact = low sweat = high style. After a quick body rinse, I sprayed a generous amount of dry shampoo through my hair concentrating it at the roots. I used one of my favorites, Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk ($20, drugstore.com). Then, I flipped my part from a center one to a side part. This concealed some oily roots and helped me fake extra volume for the day. Luckily, my ends were still holding up well and ironically, today—when my hair is the greasiest—was the day I got the most compliments. Score!

DYING to wash my hair in this pic.

Day 5: The grease-beast has taken over (ah!) so I know this will be my last day before I wash. To celebrate, I decided to go for my favorite and sweatiest workouts of the week, a spin class at Flywheel Sports. I slid on a headband for good measure and let it fly. This time, during my body shower, I tied my hair up in a high bun and wrapped just the bun in a disposable shower cap. (Those plastic bags that gyms and studios offer for your dirty clothes work well, too). Then I used just a pea-sized amount of shampoo and gently massaged it into my roots along my hairline in the front. I ducked just that portion of hair under the water to rinse. It’s a small effort (and truthfully, I was dying just to scrub my whole head clean) but the results got me through the day. I blow-dried just the portion of hair that was damp, which only took a few seconds and dreamt of the following day when I could give this mop a good wash.

The verdict: Well, I made it five days, but truth be told, I think my max when working out is four (of course everyone’s hair is different). I honestly have no problem with dirty hair, but even I was feeling icky by day five. Yes, I cut some corners to help my hair along the way (root-boosting and a mini-wash) but that’s what people forget when they’re trying to make a blowout last—they mistakenly think they either have to skip washes (and workouts) or sweat and lose their style immediately. I hope I’ve shown you can have your blowout and you workout, too and helped you solve one of your top #FitnessGirlProblems.


Meet The New (Gorgeous) Face of Lancôme: Lupita Nyong’o!

Written on April 4, 2014 at 9:00 am , by

Photo Credit: Alexi Lubomirski for Lancôme

Breaking beauty news: Lancôme announced that the Academy Award-winning actress, Lupita Nyong’o, will be their new brand ambassadress. The 31-year-old Kenyan stunner stormed onto the Hollywood scene with her moving role as Patsey in the film 12 Years a Slave and has been wowing us with her one-of-a-kind beauty ever since. From bold and bright eyeshadows and liners to punchy lip colors, Nyong’o proves she’s not afraid of color and pulls off every shade flawlessly. We totally envy how versatile her look is (not to mention, her toned body and glowing skin!). About her new role as a face of the brand, she says, “I am truly honored to join the Maison Lancôme, a brand with such a prestigious history and that I have always loved. I am particularly proud to represent its unique vision for women and the idea that beauty should not be dictated, but should instead be an expression of a woman’s freedom to be herself.” (We second that!). She’ll be in good company by joining Julia Roberts, Kate Winslet, Penélope Cruz and Lily Collins as faces of the brand.


Katie Lee Serves Up DIY Beauty Tricks and Healthy Recipes

Written on April 3, 2014 at 4:07 pm , by

Cookbook author, celebrity chef and co-host of the Food Network’s talk show, The Kitchen, Katie Lee, certainly knows how to harness food in her delicious recipes, but she also incorporates some of the same ingredients into her beauty regimen. Recently, Lee teamed up with Stolichnaya vodka on their #SearchForMary to find original Bloody Mary recipes across the nation. We chatted with the glam chef about everything from primping to pancakes.

 So we know you’re hanging out with Stoli today for a Bloody Mary brunch. Is there a way to make a Bloody Mary healthier?
“I think a Bloody Mary is a healthier choice because with the base being tomato juice, it’s not a sugary drink, and you’re getting some lycopene in there, which is good for your skin and a good antioxidant. I use low-sodium juice, which I think makes a big difference. You don’t want to get puffy from your drink or raise your sodium levels, so I use low sodium. One of the other great things about a Bloody Mary is the spices in it. Spicy foods can spike your metabolism. And Stoli vodka is a nice robust vodka that will hold up to those spicy flavors of the Bloody Mary, so it really is a good pairing.”

Any tips for keeping brunch on the healthy side? 
“When you go out for brunch, look for healthier options and make some adjustments. Tell them to go easy on the cheese if you’re going to have an omelet and you want cheese. Or sometimes, I’ll ask them to make my omelet with egg whites and one egg yolk. That way I still get the flavor of the egg yolk in there and also the yolk has some B vitamins, so I still like to get one yolk and the rest be egg whites, so you feel like you’re still indulging but you’re making healthier choices.”

Do you have any favorite healthy brunch recipes?
“If I’m at home, what I’ll do, because I do love pancakes, is I make a pancake recipe that is just cottage cheese, oats and eggs in the blender. And it’s high protein, high fiber, and no guilt.”

Sounds delicious! What’s one of the best beauty tricks you’ve picked up?
“I really like to use food in my beauty products and my makeup artist uses a lot of oil, so I picked up that tip from her. I add a little coconut oil to my foundation when I put it on and it just gives a nice sheen and it’s still really moisturizing. Especially since it’s still cold out and my skin is dry. I tend to have dry skin all year long and in the summer, I’m in salt water a lot because I surf, so having that little bit of oil makes my makeup have that perfect little glow to it.”

Is surfing one of your go-to workouts?
“Yeah! I love surfing. I started surfing about four years ago; the ocean was a fear of mine and I like to do things to get out of my comfort zone. So, I decided to take a surf lesson and I got obsessed with it, so that’s one of my workouts. And then, I religiously do Tracy Anderson. I love her workouts. And I’m just a really active person; I love to eat, but I love my skinny jeans too, so it’s a trade-off. If I want to eat all that good stuff, I’ve got to workout.”


Giada De Laurentiis Dishes on Hair Color, Healthy Living and Her Next Big Business Venture

Written on April 1, 2014 at 2:20 pm , by

Giada DeLaurentiis is kind of like our (gorgeous) best girlfriend from down the street who comes over to whip up delicious meals then help us eat them. She’s a staple in thousands of kitchens as the star of the Food Network’s Everyday Italian and Giada at Home, a judge and mentor on Food Network Star and the author of six New York Times best-selling books including her latest, Giada’s Feel Good Food. And although she’s a pro when it comes to cooking, she knows a few things about primping as well. As the celebrity spokesperson for Clairol, we met up with her to chat about Natural Instincts, the hair color and her own intuition. Read on for more scoop on her beauty routine, her favorite recipes and her new restaurant opening in Las Vegas.

So let’s talk about hair color. When did you start coloring your hair and why?
“I started coloring in my early 30s. I just felt that my hair color was getting a little dull. It was brown, but it wasn’t doing anything for my face and as I was getting a little older, I felt like it might be fun to play around and figure out what looks good on me. I think that happened because I had little bit more money to spend and a little more confidence to go out on a limb and try it. So I started coloring my hair a little bit; I went much darker like jet black; I went red; I went platinum blonde. I tried lots of different things. I cut my hair really short at times, then I had a bob and then I had it long. I really was searching. I sort of had a love/hate relationship with my hair almost my whole life; I have curly, sort of frizzy hair, and so I never knew how to tame it, and my mom was never good at teaching me, so I really wanted to find a way to control my hair and so I think I tried lots of different things. And then, I started with Clairol. I found a good color for me; something that could give me a pick-me-up in between salon visits because as I get older, I have to go to the salon more often, but I don’t always have time and so it’s really nice to be able to use something that’s actually conditioning my hair at the same. I think that a lot of us women tie our hair to the way we feel about ourselves. That’s why a bad hair day can throw off the entire day and make you feel bad. So, I think that’s what I was searching for and that’s what I found.”

Has the formula helped with your frizz as well? 
“Yeah and that’s the other thing—controlling your frizz is number one and moisturizing your hair and keeping it healthy is a great way to control frizz.”

In terms of makeup, what are some of your must-haves?
“I have a whole beauty routine that I like to do, but I really like cover-up with SPF in it. Sunscreen to me is the key to everything. My brother died about ten years ago from melanoma, so I really, really am hardcore when it comes to sunscreen in everything that I use, whether it’s foundation; whatever it is, I use sunscreen. I even put sunscreen in my hair, to protect my hair and my scalp because a lot of times you burn your scalp without even knowing it, and you can get melanoma on your scalp. So I put sunscreen everywhere. It’s my number one; I don’t leave home without it. I don’t care if it’s snowing or raining, there’s still some kind of light coming out, and I have to protect myself from it. Then I always wear a light foundation on my skin to even it out and to protect it. Unlike a lot of people who feel like the best thing to do for your skin is not wear anything, I actually feel like wearing something actually protects your skin from the elements. The cold, the heat, the dryness: all that stuff. Lately if I don’t want to do my eyes, I really like a red lip. I’m into the red lip, otherwise I’ll do up my eyes and I like a little sparkle, a little glitter eye shadow for me is super fun.”

We know you’re a pro in the kitchen. Do you have any cool beauty tricks that you can DIY in your kitchen?
“Well, what I love to do to moisturize my hair when I’m home is to make a little mask of avocado and olive oil. You mix it together and put it from mid-length to ends. And then, if I’m not in a rush, I’ll just put my hair up and leave it in there for a few hours and then go back and rinse it out. Otherwise, I’ll just stay in the shower for 15 minutes and let the humidity and moisture lock it in. Coconut oil is great on the ends of your hair, as well, and straight olive oil is great on hair, which I love to do. That’s what I do when I’m home. When I’m on the road, I love the conditioner included with Clairol Natural Instincts Hair Color ($9, walmart.com). That’s what I use once a week, because my hair goes through so much styling and curling and flat ironing and blow-drying, so I use that to moisturize my hair.”

Switching gears a bit, we know it’s your job to cook and essentially to eat. What are your tricks for not over-indulging?
“Well, I’m not going to say I never indulge in anything, because I do, but the next day I balance it out. I will say that eating all day is tough [when judging The Next Food Network Star], so I make sure that I have one-to-two bites, tops. I feel like once I’ve had one or two bites, I know what it tastes like and anything else after that is just pure indulgence. And when you have to eat as your job, and you have to eat lots of different things, you can’t ever overeat. So, that plus lemon water also helps me flush it down and keeps my palette feeling very clean and ready to eat something else. I think for me, moderation is the key and I portion-control myself, from snacks that I keep in my bags to food that I eat. Even when I go out to eat, I’ll try and order the appetizer version of things. If I can’t, or I don’t like something that’s on the appetizer menu, I’ll get a main course meal, and then I’ll ask them to just pack up the other half and I just don’t ever see it. Or, the other thing that works really well is family style, where you just share plates and that makes it easier because you never feel like you’re going to overeat and you can taste a lot of different things. I think those are some really simple ways to keep moderation in your diet when you’re out and about, because it’s hard when you travel.”

Definitely. I know you love chocolate. For those of us who have a sweet tooth, are there any healthy recipes you love?
“Yeah! One of my favorites lately is my Chocolate Avocado Mousse. So, put avocado in a food processor with unsweetened cocoa powder, a teaspoon of agave and some bittersweet melted chocolate chips, and puree it all together. And then I usually just chill it, so I put it in little cups and I serve it with raspberries. That to me is my go-to pick-me-up. The other one that I love is dried figs and almond butter in a food processor. I make little balls and then I dip them in melted dark chocolate and make little fig balls and, again, I keep them in the fridge and top them with a little sea salt. And those are pop-in-your-mouth pick-me-ups that are healthy and good for your body. So it’s a really good indulgence.”

Yum! You mentioned you travel a lot, how do you manage to stay active and healthy when you’re on the road? 
You know, working out on the road is probably the hardest and I’m not a runner, which tends to be the easiest way to get some exercise. So, I do a lot of yoga, I bring my yoga blocks with me, so I do yoga in the morning and at night, even if it’s just for five minutes and even if it’s a few sun salutations, it gets my body breathing and aligns me. Lately, I’ve tried to do a little bit of boxing. I find that boxing releases stress and frustration and, at the same time, helps you sweat and really tones your body. So, I’ve been doing a little bit of that.”

I got into a really big kickboxing phase at one point and it’s such a stress reliever; it feels good!
“It just feels good! You know, because I’m opening this restaurant in Vegas, I feel like my stress level has sort of gone to another level and it’s a really great way to control it. So, it’s been really helpful, maybe six months from now when everything’s said and done, I won’t like it as much anymore, but for right now, it’s working for me so I’m going to stick to it.”

That actually brings me to my next question; congratulations on the new restaurant! Why did you feel like now was the right time and Vegas was the right spot?
“Good question. Now is the right time because I think I’m at the point in my career where I need something brand new. I needed to sort of explore a new horizon and try something totally different, although, still in my wheelhouse, something I’ve never done before on a grand scale that I don’t think anybody has done before. I believe that everybody that has a restaurant on the strip has a restaurant somewhere else first. No one is starting from scratch and I’m starting from scratch – literally: the place was gutted, my space was a 2-floor parking garage. Most places have an existing framework or have an existing kitchen, they might be gutting it, but there was a kitchen there. There was no kitchen; there were parked cars there. So, for me, it’s like starting from scratch all the way. It’s a boutique hotel, the first on the strip and I’m one of the first female chefs on the strip, so there’s so many firsts. For me, I feel like, there are things you can do in Vegas that you can’t do anywhere else and although I’m going to make my food and I’m going to have my iconic dishes, I also want to have some show with those dishes. So, instead of just giving you Chicken Cacciatore, I’m going to roast a whole chicken and I’m going to present it to you, it’s going to be Chicken Cacciatore for two, and we’re going to carve it for you. We’re going to finish pasta dishes tableside, sometimes in a skillet and sometimes maybe in a round Parmesan cheese wheel, like they do in Italy. So there’s a lot more show involved than just ‘here’s your dinner.’ And, you know, a really sort of modern, Italian restaurant. So not checkered tablecloths, more of a reinvented Italian with a California spin, which is really what I’m known for. And we have indoor-outdoor dining, which is kind of unheard of in Vegas and an unbelievable view of the Bellagio fountains, so I hope people will come and get engaged—it’s so romantic. The hotel is called The Cromwell and the opens May 1st, and we open around the 20th of May. It’s around the corner and it’s kind of scary because there are no walls up yet, so I’m not really sure how it’s going to work, but they tell me that in Vegas, anything is possible, so we’re just going to leave it at that!”

Good luck! Obviously opening a restaurant is a big step. What has been the best advice you’ve gotten in regards to following your own natural instincts?
“My grandfather told me a long time ago that following your instincts, your natural instincts, is the way to success. It’s kind of the key to success and a lot of us don’t do that or we question ourselves. Trust me that I have questioned myself as to what I was thinking when I said yes to this space and to this restaurant and many people doubt me and many people, especially my peers, fear the worst for me and feel that I have bitten off more than I can chew. And maybe I have, but I have to say that sometimes in life when you’re a little bit naïve about something and you think you can handle more than you can, at the end of the day, part of that naïveté has probably helped me make this decision and will probably propel me to the next level. And had I known everything that I’m in now and will be in, I may not have done it. So, you know, I think ignorance is bliss sometimes and I think that I would like to prove to people that, women can also do the same thing that men can do.”


Favorite Find Friday: Viviscal Extra Strength Hair Growth Supplements

Written on March 28, 2014 at 9:00 am , by

I recently got a haircut that was much shorter than I had ever gone, and although I loved it at first, after a few months I started to miss my long locks. So I decided to start taking Viviscal Extra Strength Hair Growth Supplements ($50, viviscal.com). I’ve met with the brand before and found out that the twice-daily supplement contains an exclusive marine complex that helps to nourish thinning hair and promote existing healthy hair growth from within, completely drug free. One important thing to note: because it does contain fish and shellfish, it’s not recommended for anyone allergic to fish, shellfish or seafood. So even though my hair wasn’t thinning, I figured it couldn’t hurt to give my follicles a little extra TLC to speed up the grow-out process. After just a few weeks, I started to see wispy baby hairs growing along my hairline. Then, at a recent visit to the salon, my stylist told me that I actually had tons and tons of baby hairs growing out all over my scalp, not just the hairline! I couldn’t believe it. They were already close to an inch long and I can tell I have a little added volume near my roots. I can’t really tell if it’s speeding up the growth of the length of my hair, but I know for sure that if I stick with it, I will have thicker, fuller hair in no time and I can hardly wait!