An Ode to Sleep

“We spend about one third of our lives in a state of repose, defined by relative behavioral immobility and reduced responsiveness to external stimuli. Cumulatively, this amounts to several decades’ worth of sleep over the lifetime of an average person. Ah, I know you’re thinking, Wouldn’t it be great if we cut down on this “wasted” time to be able to do more! When I was younger, I, too, lived by the motto “You can sleep when you’re dead.” But I’ve woken up to the fact that for optimal, long-term physical and mental health, we need sleep.” (Source: Scientific American.)

I am obsessed with sleep. Although I am not a great sleeper to begin with, I consciously plan my night so that by the time my head hits the pillow, my body is prepared to fall into a deep slumber. I think I’m too aware of how 8-10 hours a night can benefit the body and mind. And I notice a distinct difference between 8-10 hours and 6-7 hours a night (which is not enough for me, personally).

Without a good night sleep, I am:

  • less productive and slower at getting tasks done
  • have difficulty concentrating
  • less articulate when speaking
  • lack coordination during exercise
  • moody and stubborn
  • snack more and generally eat unhealthily
  • have dark circles under my eyes

These are symptoms that I’ve observed in myself, but there is scientific evidence to back up these claims. When I’m fully rested, I wake up with that “can take on the world” can-do attitude. I feel bright-eyed and excited for the day ahead. The difference in how I feel without sleep is seriously night and day (pun intended).

How to wind down and prepare for a good night’s sleep:

  • exhaust the mind and body during the day through exercise and mental stimulation (aka work)
  • eat 2-4 hours before going to sleep
  • don’t look at electronics 1 hour before going to sleep
  • read in bed
  • drink a non-caffeinated tea, such as chamomile or peppermint, but do so an hour or two before sleeping (so you don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom)
  • invest in blackout shades and try to make your room as dark as possible
  • turn off any buzzing/ringing of your phone and place it somewhere away from where you are sleeping
  • make sure your room is cool, but not too cold that your body can’t get comfortable
  • invest in earplugs or a sound machine (Waves app is a good one) if you are a light sleeper and sensitive to sounds

Sleep. Just do it.

Recipe: Gingered Bok Choy

I love cooking. But like most people (I’m sure), I use that commonplace excuse, “too busy/tired/lazy/cheap/etc.” to make a home cooked meal.  My work schedule (trying to juggle two jobs) has come in the way of creating anything interesting at home. For quick dinners, I usually resort to breakfast for dinner, ie. scrambled eggs with sweet potatoes and avocado. A lovely combination, but a girl could use some variety to spice up her life.

The following ginger-heavy recipe definitely does the trick. It’s easy to make, delicious, fast, and healthy!

Ingredients: 

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large head of bok choy, root end removed, cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide pieces

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

salt and pepper

Recipe: 

  1. Adjust oven rack to the lowest position. Heat the oven to 500 degrees.
  2. Combine grated ginger and oil in a large bowl. Add the bok choy to the bowl, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat. Spread bok choy on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer.
  3. Place the bok choy on the bottom rack. Cook about 8 minutes until the leaves are wilted and stems are tender. Transfer the bok choy to a serving platter and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
  4. Serve with seared salmon and white rice (or protein/carbs of choice).

The Product-less Guide to Good Skin

From a very young age, I sought out wellness advice. Some might say I became obsessed with having good skin and healthy hair. Makeup was nonexistent in my tween years- I was all about the preservation of the epidermis.

My “routine” consisted of using a a warm face towel every morning and night before applying Vaseline brand lotion. That’s it. That’s all I did for about the first decade of my life.

It wasn’t until I started modeling at 15 that I actually had a full face of makeup applied. That’s when I started to have skin “issues.” Products, other peoples hands, airplanes, lack of sleep, poor diet, and other factors started to make my skin irritated, blotchy, and dull.

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When it comes to skin and health, I’m a true believer in the “less is more” philosophy. Since modeling, I’ve tried numerous overpriced lotions (La Mer, La Prairie…) and trendy skincare products with ingredients such as charcoal, turmeric, and green tea extract. You name it. I’ve applied it. Nothing makes my skin as clear and glowy as simply following some basic “good skin” rules. Rules are:

Sleep

“Forty percent of all Americans are sleep deprived, getting less than the recommended 7 hours a night. That shows directly on your skin, according to a study coming out of the UK. They found fine lines and wrinkles increased by 45%, blemishes increased by 13%, and redness increased by 8% after just five nights of poor sleep.” (TheNewPotato)

Don’t Touch Your Face

“If you are acne-prone, absolutely face-touching can lead to breakouts. Rather than the word ‘cause,’ however, think ‘trigger.’ Acne is caused by the confluence three factors: excess oil, excess skin shedding and p. acnes bacteria,” said Dr. Shamban. “What touching can do is spread existing p. acnes — the culprit behind red inflammatory acne papules, pustules and cysts — on the surface and beneath the surface of the skin. Beneath the skin is where it does the most damage because it can spread to other pores and manifest in yet another pimple.” (HuffingtonPost)

Hydrate

“The fact is that skin is an organ, and just like any other part of the body. your skin is made up of cells. And skin cells, like any other cell in the body, are made up of water. Without water, the organs will certainly not function properly or at their best. If your skin is not getting the sufficient amount of water, the lack of hydration will present itself by turning your skin dry, tight and flaky. Dry skin has less resilience and is more prone to wrinkling.” (UWHealth)

Avoid Processed Foods

“A paper published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recently stated that eating empty carbs and sugar foods – generally those that are processed including soda, candy bars, white bread and crackers can trigger acne. These are also considered “high-glycemic foods” and are highly inflammatory. They cause a spike in blood sugar, increasing hormones that stimulate oil production and cause inflammatory acne lesions.” (TheAlternativeDaily)

Use Only as Many Products as You Need

“Overdoing products that break down the stratum corneum cause irritant contact dermatitis and will trigger an immune response as part of the body’s healing mechanism. For instance, mixing and matching different skin care products can cause serious inflammation…The main objective of your daily regimen is to maintain the protective surface of your skin. If you use too many acids and harsh products, you erode that layer and expose yourself to infections and strip the stratum corneum of moisture.” (ShareCare)

Eat Good Fats

“The foods highest in omega-3 fatty acids include seafood (especially tuna and salmon) as well as walnuts, canola oil, and flax seed. These fatty acids are responsible for the health of the cell membrane, which is not only what acts as the barrier to things that are harmful, but also the passageway for nutrients to cross in and out and for waste products to get in and out of the cell… the membrane is what influences the cells ability to hold water, having a nice, healthy barrier yields moister, softer, more subtle, and more wrinkle-free skin.” (WebMD)

Sweat

“There are studies that show that the act of sweating not only removes impurities from your skin, but can help protect it from bacteria like E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus by secreting a rather nifty natural antibiotic called Dermcidin.” (IntoTheGloss)

Rinse Face Immediately After Sweating

“Allowing sweat to dry on the skin can clog pores and cause acne…sweating is a necessary way for your body to release toxins. With your system detoxified, your skin will be brighter and healthier – this is one of the reasons spas use steam treatments.” (TheBaltimoreSun)

Relax

“Stress forces your body into “panic mode” on every level as it focuses solely on calming you down, slowing your heart rate and pumping blood to your heart, instead of repairing your skin cells, reducing inflammation and keeping levels of youthful collagen high — all of the things it needs to do to reduce acne and stop signs of aging appearing prematurely.” (WorksWithWater)

The New New in New York

Times are a changin’, especially in the realm of startups in NYC. Brands such as Outdoor Voices, Everlane, and Glossier are making a name for themselves via Instagram and word-of-mouth. And it’s working for them.

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These brands are connecting to their market using millennial-worthy phrases such as “Doing Things,” “Radical Transparency,” and “Skin is In.”  The founders Tyler Haney (OV), Michael Preysman (Everlane), and Emily Weiss (Glossier), know that their customer is smart. Each CEO discovered a gap in their market’s industry, a craving that this generation (and older) had for easy, usable, wearable, affordable, and sustainable fashion and beauty. They started with good ideas and created great products. outdoor-voices-spring-2016-collection-twin-with-your-bff-01-780x520

Here are my favorites from each (and fun little quotes from the founders):

OUTDOOR VOICES, Tyler Haney: “I’m very much a risk taker. I don’t have experience on my side, but I have persistence.” (Forbes.com)

Outdoor Voices favorite: Two-Tone Athena Crop

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3/4 Two-Tone Warmup Legging

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EVERLANE, Michael Preysman: “I think the notion of a product where you know you’re going to get great quality, you know the price is going to be good and you know the company is incredibly honest and transparent about everything that happens is something that’s very refreshing.” (BoF)

Everlane favorites: The Modern Babo
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The Cashmere Crop Mockneck

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GLOSSIER, Emily Weiss: “That’s sort of how we think about things, as always a fresh start. We want to be able to make girls really happy and excited about beauty. I think that beauty is something that can be very overwhelming and very alienating and there’s certainly no shortage of beauty products that exist. We wanted to give a clear vision for something that can make you really happy, or really bring joy to your morning or your evening or your day.” (Racked

Glossier favorite: Balm Dotcom

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Haloscope in Quartz 

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My Daily Protein Shake

We all have those daily food habits, whether it’s a breakfast sandwich on your way to work, an almond milk latte from your favorite coffee shop, or that after work beer or glass of wine at a bar, that seem harmless in the moment but reveal their true face/cost on your bank statement.

I like breakfast at home. I rarely drink during the week. And I’ve since invested in a Nespresso machine as a replacement for my daily $5 almond milk cappuccinos.

However, this past summer I developed a new habit: protein shakes, specifically from Barry’s Bootcamp. For those who don’t know, BB is one of those trendy (yet effective) interval workout classes. I will do a class every now and then, but $40/class habit is a bit harder to get on board with. What I’ve become a little too)comfortable with though is cashing out $10 for a shake from their Fuel Bar. Like a really great sandwich, bowl of pasta, or green juice, some things just taste better when someone else is making it for you.

My 1-2 times a week habit has since turned into an almost-everyday one, so it’s time to come up with an alternative. I tend to think of a lot of my purchases in opportunity cost, or as my economics teacher referred to it “opportunity lost.” AKA what could you have bought or had if you didn’t buy what you did. Some simple math later… $10 smoothie x 7 days a week = $70 = massage/mani AND pedi/7 Sweetgreen salads/etc. You get the idea.

I’ve since perfected Barry’s Bootcamp’s ALMOND BUTTER AND JEALOUS SMOOTHIE. And it’s divine, if I do say so myself. See below for the recipe.

Ingredients: 1 cup almond milk, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used Vega), 1 spoonful almond butter, 3/4 cup blueberries, lots of cinnamon, and frozen spinach. 

BB’s Fuel Bar leaves out the spinach, but I add it for those extra greens. Also, it makes my smoothie bigger, thicker, and colder. You don’t taste the spinach at all. Trust.

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Now off to get that massage…

Walk On: Sneaker Review

I’ll keep this post short(ish) and sweet. I’m not a runner. I find it monotonous and ineffective. I do believe that it works for some people with the runner’s high and whatnot. Just not my thing. I am, however, a walker. I walk EVERYWHERE. It’s become a running (pun-intended) joke with my friends and family that wherever I go, I opt-out of regular transportation. Reasons why I walk everywhere (like I need them):

  1. I live in a beautiful city and I like exploring it by foot.
  2. Cabs/Ubers/Lyfts make me nauseous.
  3. The trains are unreliable on weekends.
  4. Exercise!
  5. I save money. Has anyone realized the subway is now $2.75?

I’ve literally walked through the heels and soles of multiple shoes, so I’ve had to resort to sneakers for the majority of my trekking. And I just want to let you all in on a little sneaker secret…

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This magnificent creature is aptly named The Cloud by On.  And they are, indeed, heavenly to walk in.

Fro-YOLO?

I’ve had a long history with “soft-serve” and it’s various incarnations. I consumed Tasti-d-Lite (vanilla in a wafer cone with chocolate sprinkles) around three times a day, every day for a year in high school. After I graduated, the frozen yogurt wave hit New York. Pinkberry, 16 Handles, Frannie’s YoArt (Plaza Hotel), etc… endless choices of flavors, toppings, and sauces. Then Instagram became a thing and frozen yogurt became an art form. Photos of cups overflowing with graham cracker and birthday cake frozen yogurt, topped with cookie dough bites, fluff, cookie crumble, cinnamon toast crunch, with caramel sauce dripping off the edge flooded my feed. And both posters and followers, somewhat, buying into the idea that this is food? Or even worse, that frozen yogurt is healthy.

Recently, I walked into my local frozen yogurt shop and just when I was about to start filling my cup, an employee opened up one of the panels that revealed the inside of the machine. Two big buckets filled with a viscous-y glue-like substance. The employee continued to poor more glue into one of the buckets and the sound of the sloshing liquified froyo had me leaving the store empty handed and stunned.

16-handles-launches-oh-my-pumpkin-pie-flavorSure, I knew what I was consuming all these years wasn’t actually yogurt (with all it’s good bacteria and protein) that was frozen. But I think I’ve officially been turned off of the substance. Because, like really, what is frozen yogurt?

No, I won’t leave you hanging. I did some research… and it’s not pretty, people.

Besides all of the added chemicals giving you that “creamy coconut” flavor, the main ingredient most detrimental to your health is SUGAR. And due to the low-fat, low-protein, zero-fiber nature of frozen yogurt, the sugar gets absorbed into the bloodstream faster.

Regular ice cream could actually be “better” for you than frozen yogurt, because it has some fat. If you’ve been keeping up with nutrition studies of late, every one of them has been saying that fat is good for you. The low-fat fad has been long disproven as an effective way to regulate your weight, so why is frozen yogurt so popular? 

Some guesses:

  1. Instagram 
  2. Sugar is Addictive 
  3. Marketed as a “Health Food” 
  4. People Like Choices and a Self-Serve Option
  5. Because “Treat Yourself” 

I try and make a conscious effort to never tell people what or how they should eat, but I do think it’s important to be informed about what you are putting into your body. I’d rather advocate for local, full-fat, dairy ice cream without chemical additives than tell people to consume fat-free frozen chemical goo. At least personally, I think I’ve finally put the goo behind me…

Health is wealth!

The Fall Choker

I’m not one to stay on top of fashion trends. Obviously, I notice what “kids” these days are wearing, but I’ve never felt the need to copy an uber-trend. However, this past summer I did notice the prevalence of the choker – and yes, I partook in the trend on occasion. Thanks to the Kendalls, Gigis, other insta-famouses, and Monica Rose (stylist to most of them), the 90s made a full comeback via this too-tight necklace.

I got behind the choker trend because it paired well with “the crop top” trend. But WINTER IS COMING and that means belly buttons have to/should go into hibernation for a little while. And I’m predicting and hoping that harnesses and leather-neck accessories will become Fall/Winter’s new covetable trend. Why such an daring prediction, you ask? Because they can be worn over a variety of cold-weather appropriate outfits. And most importantly, because they look badass. Caution: this trend is a little more aggressive than a thin piece of black string around your neck. It’s straight up body-hardware and I’m into it.

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Photographer Nam

I know what you’re thinking, where does one buy such contraptions besides your local S&M store? Zana Bayne is a “post-fetish leather brand” and a good place to start. #LeatherWithLove

2016 Wellness Trend: Self-Care

Monday mornings for me involve catching up on all the news, blogs, emails, and errands that I put off (or ignored) all weekend. I love starting off like this because reading articles or news stories and accomplishing things on my to-do list inspires me to work hard AND HUSTLE in the week ahead.

I had a little bit of a sugar-laden weekend – sister’s birthday plus sleepover with friends means a good deal of cake, pastries, and tequila were consumed this weekend. It’s hard to face Monday knowing I have to get back to taking care of myself again, because CAKE IS GOOD (and I would love to eat it every day).

Reading this article by The Chalkboard Magazine is a good reminder that self-care is extremely important and the best health trend out there because it applies to your mental, emotional, and physical well being.

This is how I got back to taking care of myself this Monday morning:

  • Vitamins – Iron (slightly anemic) + Vitamin C (for absorption), Biotin (for hair and nails), Culturelle probiotics (gut health), and Echinacea + Zinc (feeling a cold coming on)
  • Writing Weekly Goals – Things I want to accomplish this week re: career, job, personal.
  •  Gym- Kickboxing followed by some much needed stretching.
  • Healthy Eats – Eating well on a Monday is a non-negotiable for me. I had eggs an a spoonful (or two) of almond butter for breakfast and a Sweetgreen Harvest Bowl (no rice) for lunch. Also, two almond cappucinos (because it’s still Monday, and zzzzz).
  • Cleaning – Laundry that I always intend to do on Sunday and always ends up getting done on Monday. Bleaching sheets and making my bed feels very therapeutic and productive.
  • Planner Updates – I keep a Moleskin planner by my bed. I’ve never been able to keep up with updates on my phone. I like to physically write down and check off things in my schedule. It’s a good indicator of time as well. I chalk it up to being a visual person, I like to flip pages and see time passing.