Category Archives: Health

On the Road to Better Health

Allyson’s weight loss journey continues!

by Nancy Roy

When Allyson first came to me for help with losing weight and getting fit, I was impressed with her determination and knew that she could accomplish any goal she set!  We began working together in the comfort of her home living room at a slow pace since she hadn’t exercised in a long time. I knew she needed to incorporate regular cardio workouts since she was hoping to eventually drop 20 pounds or more. She began a strength training and stepping program a couple days a week with me and was also diligent about adding ‘homework’ assignments on those days she wasn’t working out with her trainer.

Getting outside more, even to walk the dog everyday, is a huge part of getting fit. There are so many physical activities people can easily work into their day, such as taking the stairs, dancing, walking more, and so on.

After working with Allyson during phase one of her new fitness plan, in 8 weeks, she has lost over 5 inches of body fat and lost over 4 pounds, despite gaining some new-found muscle! Her overall body fat count dropped from 39.1 down to 36.2. I was really impressed and Allyson was excited at her results, which only motivated her even more to continue her journey!

She is headed in the right direction. Taking weight off slowly and safely (1/2 pound-2 pounds a week is ideal) so she’ll be more likely to keep it off.

And the best thing about her results is that she accomplished them with just two one-hour sessions with me each week, right in her own home! How easy is that to get started?!

Her workouts now consist of 20-30 minutes of cardio (depending on how intense the strength training workout is for achieving toned muscles and a strong core). We now do various forms of step aerobics (low impact/high intensity) such as jumping jacks, mountain climber, burpees, etc. As time progressed, Allyson was able to handle longer cardio work-outs due to her increased endurance and stronger heart.

Now, during phase 2 we have pumped up the weights! During this time it’s important to stay away from the scale because muscle weighs more than fat…so even if she may gain a few pounds in muscle she will be increasing her metabolism to burn fat longer, which will eventually show up in losing inches and seeing her clothes get looser!

Did you know that 45 minutes of cardio burns fat for 8 hours just sitting in a chair? Adding weights to that workout and the time increases to 12 hours! This will achieve muscle definition and a flatter core (visible in one’s abs). Allyson is also doing sit-ups, crunches  and planks during this phase of her fitness journey.

Next phase will be focused more on increasing balance and flexibility along with longer cardio workouts and heavier weights for toning.

“It’s been wonderful!” smiles Allyson, “I already feel better and my clothes are looser. I can walk my dog longer and also think about what I eat everyday to maintain and continue to lose some weight!”

The key that a fitness program is working is when you are physically and emotionally ‘feeling better’ and Allyson certainly lives up to the challenge!

Find out how Allison is doing on her fitness journey and what she looks like after phase two of her workout program in the next issue of West Hartford Magazine and perhaps you’ll start moving more and join Allyson on her quest to get fit!

To view the full magazine online,
please visit our ISSUU library.

True Beauty Begins with a Beautiful Mind

Old age wisdom that has lasted centuries!

by Tammy Kroll

We ‘ve all heard “You are what you eat” and I can’t stress enough how important that is.  But have you also heard, “As a man thinketh, so is he”.  So, how does that relate to beauty?  Take stress, for example.  When we experience it, a chemical process happens within us, producing cortisol and wreaking havoc with our health, showing up on our faces with breakouts, dry flakiness, sallow complexion, worry lines, etc.  We cannot avoid stress but we can train our thoughts to counter-balance this sneaky skin zapper with happy chemicals like serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins to soothe our souls and smooth our skin.  As you would with your face, start the process of cleansing, toning and nourishing your mind.


Cleanse – To rid of impurites.

Take Inventory.  Rid your mind of any impurities that are clouding your thoughts.  Anger and bitterness towards others are as destructive to your mind as toxins and dirt are to your body.  Consider the media you choose. Negativity from certain TV shows, news and internet all can have adverse cumulative effects on the brain.  Are there people in your life, work situations, relationships that are constantly bringing you down?

De-clutter and sort.  Box up clothing you don’t wear and other items just taking up space.  Grab a huge garbage bag and start filling it with all the accumulated paper around your desk. Don’t put it off.  Start journaling.  Just the simple act of writing down your angry feelings, fears and hurts, can free up your brain.  Cut back on TV time or even cut it out altogether.  See how you feel – even after a short time.  Allow for creativity to fill the gap.

Let Go.  Forgive those who have hurt you.  It doesn’t mean you open yourself up to further wounding – set boundaries if you must.  The act of forgiveness is enough.  Right the wrongs that have been weighing on you – perhaps calling on or sending a note of apology if necessary.  And forgive yourself. Give yourself the gift of a fresh clean start.


Tone – Give greater strength or firmness to.

Set New Patterns.   Learn to interrupt old negative thought habits.  Have tools such as crossword puzzles, Sudoku or other games at the ready when those bad patterns creep back. Pick up an uplifting novel and spend time getting swept up in a beautiful setting and story.  Keep in mind it takes about 30 to 45 days to set new habits so give it time. It will be worth it in the end.

Be Productive. Start planning a garden or decorate a room in your house.  If you are on the creative side, paint a picture, knit a scarf, dust off that old guitar and crack open your Beatles anthology.  Creating and being productive is a great way to counter negativity and exercise your brain.

Learn Something New. Whether it’s taking a college course at a local campus or looking up something you’ve always wondered about online.  Learning, as well as creativity releases positive chemicals in the brain so go ahead and learn to paint! Challenge yourself and learn to fly!


Nourish – To supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth.

Be One With Nature.  Break from the angular world of desks and office cubicles and step out into the fresh air and onto the soft flowing curved paths of the reservoir or park.  Just a 30 minute stroll can change your mood for the better. Experience the Arts…stroll through a local Art museum or attend a poetry slam. Expand your perspective. And finally,  Love Somebody…beginning with yourself! Be grateful and compassionate. Give to charity. Hug someone…and give yourself a pat on the back!

To view the full magazine online, please visit our ISSUU library.


Unique Healthy Therapy

Three Women Entrepreneurs keeping our Community Healthy.
by Lisa Lelas

What is the only place on the East coast you can find an authentic Himalayan salt cave, barefoot massage therapists walking on backs and Rolfing deep tissue massage therapy? You guessed it…West Hartford! Three very unique holistic experiences that are exclusive to central Connecticut and/or the entire state, are all offered within a few square miles of each other, right here in our town! Thankfully, because we live in a bountiful community of forward thinking and entrepreneurial vision, rare offerings are becoming the norm here! And, as an example of that infamous glass ceiling starting to shatter, West Hartford women are in the business limelight more now than ever before! That’s right…all three of these unique business niches were created by West Hartford women.

2013 was aptly labeled the “Year of the Woman Entrepreneur” nationwide, and with that, the momentum of female-owned businesses continues to skyrocket. It’s no wonder we’re seeing more and more unique and helpful services pop up in the community, developed by local women. It’s a win-win for all of us, as their businesses prosper and we, the consumers, get to reap the invigorating benefits!

Currently, women represent a growth market twice as big as China and India combined. The number of female-owned firms is growing twice as fast as all businesses in America today. Interestingly, research shows that female owners start companies more in line with what they are most passionate about and to better balance their work and family lives while male owners are more likely to start a business primarily to make money.

These three West Hartford women entrepreneurs exemplify these findings, as they each developed a unique business niche that blossomed from their passion, drive and mission to spread joy, peace of mind and good health to the community.

Erina Lander, owner of ‘A Touch of Bliss Organic Spa’, celebrates her new business venture joyfully.  To her, opening the doors to this one-of-a-kind spa signifies and solidifies the fact that she has finally been able to re-connect to her own happiness again after struggling through many years of emotional pain.

“The reason I put ‘bliss’ in the title was because that’s what is different about this place. It comes totally from a place of healing and love and joy. Born in Russia, Erina came to the United States in 1990. She had been a civil engineer back home but she was always passionate about helping others in some way. Erina continues, “Nine years ago I experienced a tragedy that turned my whole world upside down. It made me question my whole life.”

Long time residents may remember that her 15 year old son, Mark, a freshman at Hall High School at the time, died in a tragic car accident. Through her bleakest days, Erina fondly recalls the people in the community really embracing her with kindness.

“Even though I didn’t know them, they were sending me love and prayers every day,” she remembers. Unknowingly, it would be in this light of the outpouring of kindness that Erina would find a way to re-pay them.

She remembers clearly the day her entrepreneurial light bulb lit up. Erina had been a dental hygienist for 18 years but, after the loss of her son, she lost interest and joy in her job. It simply was not fulfilling enough for her anymore. One day, still feeling down, she treated herself to a facial at a local salon. She was pleasantly surprised when she actually felt rejuvenated. She couldn’t believe how good she felt after the facial. “I felt like I was taken care of for that hour. I felt re-charged even later on that evening. I believe that helped transform me into a new person. I understood that life can change tomorrow. I don’t postpone anything anymore. That day, I suddenly became aware of my life purpose. This is what I wanted to bring to others. I wanted to give love and peace and healthy rejuvenation back to everyone in the community.”

Erina quit her job two weeks later and started researching aesthetician schools and enrolled soon after.

Today, Erina is a popular facial reflexologist and Reiki practitioner but with the opening of her spa just a few months ago, she knew she wanted to offer full service experiences to her clientele. A Touch of Bliss Organic Spa is currently the only spa in Connecticut offering ‘Barefoot Ashiatsu Bar Therapy’ or the ‘feet walking on your back’ massage, whereby a trained practitioner uses her body weight to adjust pressure. “The benefits are phenomenal,” smiles Erina, “excellent for chronic back, neck or hip pain, professional athletes…really everyone can benefit!” Also offered is traditional Ashiatsu massage, a western adaptation of martial arts and medical massage from India, Japan and Thailand. “I hand pick all my staff professionals,” assures Erina, “making sure they are passionate about their skills and love to give. We receive much more from a place of giving,” she explains. Her professional massage therapist, Janette, has been practicing Ashiatsu massage for many years, and as Erina sums it up, “everything is done from a place of love.” Combined with traditional massage, Ashiatsu offers various unique ‘strokes’ of massage. “We work from a very holistic approach on every person that comes in, not just on their physical level, but also emotional, spiritual and psychological levels.”

Also unique to ‘A Touch of Bliss’ is a Hawaiian massage called ‘Lomi Lomi’, with Bradley, the therapist specialist who is actually from Hawaii. “This is all one would expect from the beautiful Hawaiian culture. Restoring on a physical and spiritual level, this is massage and energy combined in deep long strokes and loving touches to nurture one’s body and soul.”

A Touch of Bliss Organic Spa also features Thai massage, facial treatments, a holistic/organic skincare line from Hungary and even holistic workshops on various Thursday evenings.

Aside from being a new business owner, Erina is a devoted wife to her husband, Joseph and mother to her teen daughter, Veronica. She believes love is most important in life and reminds us that in this day and age of texting and electronics, people don’t touch as much anymore. “Touch has numerous health benefits. Regular spa treatments really improve your overall health.  People need to be nurtured in order to have optimum, balanced health. It’s not a ‘luxury’ anymore (expensive things not necessary). That has changed in today’s world. Now, it’s about experiencing, focusing and nurturing on one’s self!”

A Touch of Bliss Organic Spa is located at 88 Park Road. spamassage

Sharon Sklar is a certified advanced Rolfer. Actually the only Rolfer in central Connecticut and one of just a handful throughout the country, until fairly recently, when Rolfing centers suddenly started popping up throughout the world, as people began to discover this unique massage experience.

What exactly is Rolfing? As Sharon explains, “it’s a dynamic hands-on 10-session series of deep tissue manipulation and movement education which allows your body to unlock and integrate movement. Even one session works for immediate stress release but accumulative, over 10 weekly sessions, is best for attaining permanent change.” Each session is 1 hour and 15 minutes long.

Rolfing was developed by Dr. Ida P. Rolf in the 1960’s and she later founded the Rolf Institute in Boulder, CO in 1971, a place where Sharon was trained and still continues her education.

A graduate of Boston University School of Fine Arts, Sharon first obtained a degree in sculpture. “I’ve always been intrigued in the human form. And, I grew up with a love and interest in holistic practices.  When I heard about Rolfing, soon after graduation, I signed up for a 10 week series.” By her second session, Sharon explains her world suddenly opening up to a blue sky and she heard an inner voice chanting ‘you will be a Rolfer’!  “I just knew deep in my soul that this was what I was going to do with my life. Art school helped me with the foundation and I knew this was my path.”

Sharon has been a practicing Rolfer for 33 years now. Working out of her office just off West Hartford Center, she has expanded her offerings to other full services, such as Yamuna Body Rolling®, exercise coaching and nutritional advice.

“Rolfing was my first ever real job. I never really did anything else. I love it.” says Sharon, “I connected to it immediately. I was always creative, even as a child. I saw the world in a different light. My parents were supportive but really had no idea what I was doing until they watched it unfold.” Proof positive that true entrepreneurial vision and passion need to come from within, not from anyone else.

“When we are born,” explains Sharon, “we don’t come with an owner’s manual. We learn habits from our parents and everyone around us, which may not necessarily be structurally sound for our health.  We become the accumulative of everything…even every injury we ever had. Rolfing brings us back to neutral.”

With Rolfing, Sharon says that everything is taken into consideration. “Starting with their current lifestyle, and how they carry themselves. It’s not just someone’s current posture, but it’s more about changing structure so the body begins to align itself naturally.”

Sharon notes that Rolfing is great for people post-surgery, healing after an accident, with sports injuries, years of bad posture, or simply stressful living.

“At my practice, I am the one people deal with, no one else. I enjoy getting to know and need to know everything about my clients’ lives to see how I may best serve them. I believe in a personal approach. It’s an intimate process of personal evolution.”

Leading a fulfilled balanced life has always been important to Sharon. Together with her dog, Bosco Boy (a Whippet), they are a pet therapy team, making regular appearances at Hartford Hospital and the Helen & Harry Gray Cancer Center to help and cheer up patients.

“It’s my way of giving back. I am a 7-year breast cancer survivor and also a mentor to West Hartford students. I used to travel a lot but find being home with my 3 cats and dog…I am complete. I am happy.” What’s on her bucket list? Simply “to stay free and happy.  Nothing’s better than a good meal, good health and good friendships.”

Reach Sharon at her West Hartford studio:

elements0353psSarah Howes is the owner of Elements Destination Day Spa & Salt Cave on Farmington Avenue.  Imagine that…a salt cave right here in West Hartford!

Recently celebrating its one-year anniversary, Sarah is proud of Element’s success as its popularity continues to grow.

Sarah is no stranger to new business ventures. In the past she has run an organic restaurant’s wine cellar, was a designer, and even had her own clothing line. But it was when she had her first salt cave experience in Killington, VT, that she knew this was something she needed to bring to Connecticut. Now, a trained massage therapist, Sarah studied at the Pyramid Massage School in Vermont.  “My teacher there still remains my biggest inspiration.” She says, “She actually built the very first salt cave in the country. There are only about twelve in the United States.”

The benefits of being in a salt cave are plentiful. “We have the salt imported from the Himalayans,” noting that this unique pink salt has the best healing properties and is packed with natural minerals and nutrients. “It’s anti-inflammatory, helps with respiratory issues like asthma, various skin irritations and conditions, and it’s anti-bacterial so it helps with infections. It’s fine for everyone, adults and children.”

But perhaps the biggest reason so many flock to West Hartford to experience the salt cave for themselves is the calming environment it offers. The rock-like salt walls and beach sand-like salt flooring with fiber-optic dim lighting provides instant calm for anyone’s stressed out lifestyle.  There are anti-gravity chairs available to relax in and even yoga classes are now offered in the salt cave. Many call ahead to reserve the cave for their own group. One recent group came out noticing their congestion had cleared and they all felt wonderful.

In addition to the salt cave, Elements offers special Infra-red saunas, light therapy, and a wide variety of spa services in a healing environment. Elements is often referred to as ‘a resort-like feel in an urban setting’.

Sarah was born in Vermont and lived in various places around the country until settling into her new home in West Hartford a couple of years ago.  In addition to her holistic and business training, Sarah taps into her natural love of nutrition, exercise and health. The oldest of six kids growing up, Sarah was introduced to an organic life early on. Her mother was into good nutrition and the family maintained an herb garden throughout her childhood.

As a wife and mother of two (Jacob, 7 and Ava, 3) leading a healthy and balanced life is necessary for being successful as an entrepreneur. “When I need to re-charge, I go out for a run or use the sauna. And I love CrossFit.” She says.

And Sarah has even bigger plans for Elements. “Within the next year, we are going to expand into a full organic hair salon upstairs, create an oxygen bar, and include various detox and weight loss programs including juicing and cleansing, and even the installation of an outdoor Zen garden.”

Advice for up and coming business entrepreneurs? Sarah firmly states, “Follow your heart. Do what you’re passionate about. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

Sarah’s life is at a good place. But she notes, “I pretty much eat, sleep, work-out and work here”…and the attention she puts into the business she loves so much is exactly the reason business is booming!

Elements Destination Day Spa & Salt Cave,
945 Farmington Avenue.  


Allyson’s Weight Loss Journey

Getting Started is Biggest Step for Getting Fit!
by Nancy Roy

Almost everyone gets a body wake-up call. It can happen anywhere at anytime. Perhaps it’s a sudden glance in a storefront window while shopping, or not being able to fit into a favorite pair of jeans anymore. For Allyson, it was just after a dream vacation to Italy, celebrating her 40th birthday. While looking at the vacation pictures she suddenly questioned who the woman was in the photos. It was her. The pictures did not lie. She realized she had gained some weight. Was this what life was going to look like now that she had turned 40?

The difference between sulking in a challenge and rising up to it for a solution is huge. Allyson made her decision.. This was NOT how she was going to face the rest of her life! She wanted her energy back, her bubbly personality back…and most of all she wanted her figure back!

I knew Allyson as a neighbor and understood her story. She grew up in West Hartford (Conard grad 1992) and was an active soccer player in her youth. After getting married she cooked more and moved less. On top of a busy work schedule, she had torn her ACL years ago and gave up exercising all together. We talked and I offered her a solution. More than a personal trainer, I became Allyson’s live body coach, offering her work-out sessions right in the comfort of her home, something I have been offering people in and around the West Hartford area for a long time via my ‘Fitness on The Run’ service.

I remember that very first workout session on Allyson’s living room floor and I knew that she was hooked! We simply moved back the couch and coffee table and worked ‘center ring’ on the carpet in front of the fireplace.

I knew that we needed to start Allyson on a beginner level since she hadn’t exercised in a long time. She needed some regular cardio to start losing weight, so I started her off with step aerobics. This is great for beginners because you can go at your own pace and it is a low impact exercise at high impact intensity. If you don’t own a step platform, you could use the bottom step of a staircase in your home, stepping up and down for as long as you can. Even 10 minutes is a great start. Eventually work up to 45 minutes, which you can do slowly over many workouts. Stepping is a fabulous workout. Did you know that climbing up the stairs to the top of the Empire State Building and half way down is equivalent to 45 minutes of step aerobics?!

For beginner muscle toning, we used light free weights. At home, you can substitute the weights for two cans of soup, one in each hand. Put your elbows up against your body like they are glued there and slowly curl up and down 12 times, working your way up to 3 sets of 12 reps over time. When the exercise starts getting to feel easy, you’ll know it’s time to do more sets.

“It was great having someone tell me how to exercise safely,” reflects Allyson on those very first workouts. “I know now it’s important to do a warm up before and cool down stretches afterward. Nancy also gave me homework, like walking my dog more and stretching a lot everyday. My starting weight was 163.3, about 20-30 pounds more than where I was comfortable at and my body fat was between 39 and 40%. I knew I had work to do!”

When Allyson completed her first 8 weeks on the personalized in-home fitness program, I told her it was time to face the scale again. The moment of truth was here…

…Find out how Allyson did and what she looks like after phase one of her fitness program, in the Spring Issue of West Hartford Magazine, and continue following her weight loss/get fit journey in the issues following. Better yet, start moving and JOIN Allyson on her quest to get fit! 

Where’d my Glow Go?

Creating a mid-Winter Sparkle!
by Tammy Kroll

Find yourself avoiding the mirror lately? Approaching a milestone birthday, perhaps? With the glorious sun kissed skin of summer long gone and fresh off the stress of holiday parties, chores and all its affects, we are now bustling to get back into regular mid-winter routines. Trying to relax, you may be simply strolling down the lovely Center for a mid-day walk or some week-end shopping, when suddenly it happens! You get a glimpse of a pale, dull, tired looking stranger in a disturbingly reflective storefront.  “How could that new spring/summer sleeveless number you just bought, ever look good on such sallow, flaky, dry skin?”

Although the bright shining holiday string lights are long since packed away, there is still time to transform with my 3 ‘EEEsy’ ways to let YOUR light shine this season:  Exfoliate, Enrich and Enhance!

It’s important to continuously remove the outside dead layers of winter skin to reveal new vibrant skin underneath.  There are some amazing products on the market to achieve the desired result.  Botanically based ones are the safest and healthiest.  The older you are the more important it is to choose less abrasive methods like a natural papaya enzyme mask.  Retinoid, a derivative of vitamin A, is another key ingredient and can give quick results…2 to 4 weeks depending on the strength of the product.  This would be applied at night since the ingredient itself can interact with the sun, making skin more sensitive.  A product that comes in a tub with slightly rough pads that can be run over the face and neck are the easiest way to apply  (Tip: Before I throw a pad away I run it over each forearm, another place aging pops up quickly.  For your body I recommend a sugar or sea salt scrub toward the end of your shower 2-3 times a week.  Find one with mood elevating therapeutic oils like lemon and rosemary.

This is a two-part step.  The first is moisture that really sinks into your skin.  Avoid those products that contain mineral-oil type of ingredients which just sit on top of your skin (even quality ingredients that may be in the product will not penetrate).  Instead, choose products that contain botanically based oils that will deliver nutrients deep into the layers of your skin, such as Sweet Almond and ones rich in anti-oxidant vitamins like A, C and Raspberry Oil, which is very high in vitamin E.  These products should also contain an SPF of at least 20 to protect your skin from the damaging effects of even the winter sun.  Without the shade of the trees you may be getting more exposure than you think.  Your newly exfoliated skin will need that protection.

The second step is nutrition. I can’t stress this simple rule enough: Eat more veggies and less fat and sugar!  And I’m not talking about high carb/starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn. Squeeze in as many greens as you can every day, such as spinach and kale.  Orange veggies like squash and carrots, containing beta carotene, actually give your skin a nice glow.  Even green and red vegetables contain carotenoids that enhance your coloring. You will be amazed at the transformation of your skin in just a short time of healthy eating!  Fruits like oranges are good too, but in limited amounts because of their sugar/carb content.  It may be a rough start at first, especially if your system is used to sugar and fat, but it will be well worth the effort.  Before you know it, your body will be craving those vitamin-enriched veggies.

If a little more skin tone or color is still needed, nix the unsafe tanning bed and invest in a good self-tanner which will go on smooth and evenly on your newly exfoliated skin.  Don’t forget to wash your hands to avoid orange palms.  Then apply to the backs of your hands…a spray is usually good for this, though you still need to rub the backs of your hands together making sure you go all the way to the finger tips and blend back down to your forearms.  On your face, try one of the new BB or CC creams out for fun.  Some products contain a built in highlighter.  Finish off with a bit of reflective powder or bronzer on your cheekbones, upper chest or décolleté, and shoulders for a final shimmer!

Now you are ready for spring!  And, it doesn’t matter that days are longer and a brighter springtime sun will be streaming into your home…you will be the one lighting up the room!


Heavenly Hair

Looking your best under this Season!
by Stacey Cohen

We all know that having a ‘good hair day’ pretty much assures us of a ‘good day’ in general! Quite simply, when we look better, we feel better. So much of our attitude and outlook for the day is directly reflected upon how we feel about ourselves at the time!

So how do we face this crazy, busy holiday season head-on with a bright and bubbly attitude? Making sure our hair looks great, of course!

Tickled pink to dish on holiday hair for any and every occasion, I’d like to offer my top three hair-do’s of the season. Whether you opt to have your hair professionally blow-dried or take your strands into your own hands, they are easy, no-fuss remedies for taming wild hair into ‘heavenly hair’ this holiday season!

1. Since time is of the essence for all of us this holiday season, we want to be able to look good in as little time as possible! Buns, braids and ponies are a great twist on the classic up-do and just as easy to do in just a few minutes. Don’t worry about making your cinched hair perfect because even messy side buns, tousled fishtail braids and loose low ponytails make the list!

2. Everyone is crushing this season on curls and waves! A sleek blow-out with soft waves is so glamorous. Add extra volume and layers of headbands for a l’il va-va-voom at your next holiday party!

3. The faux bob has been all over the runway and we’re obsessed with that chic look! Curl your hair, tease it a bit and then tuck your hair under and pin. Add a brooch or sparkly clip to make this style super special!

So, next time you are in a time pinch to get to a special holiday event and want to do something special with your hair, remember it doesn’t have to be complicated. Try these tips for a perfect hair-do. After all, perfect hair equals perfect confidence!






Eat Healthy

Think Like A Parisian!
by Tammy Kroll

Summer is now over. Perhaps you never did get that swimsuit-perfect body you were hoping for. While we all seem to enter the summer season with good intentions, trying to stick to salad and fruit, we sometimes find the season brings us too many great barbecues, wonderful cocktails, and great seasonal desserts! But, no worries…now that the pressure of swimsuit season is behind us, there is plenty of time to trim down this fall!

I’ve recently spent some time with friends from Paris, and while out at several restaurants we talked quite a bit about food, and that perennial question: Why is it that the French, known for its food, are typically so much thinner than us?  Many of us have heard about the book, “French Women Don’t Get Fat,” by Mireille Guiliano, but how serious should we take that?

I asked my friends, David and Nicola, Americans who’ve lived in Paris for well over a decade, about the differences between us. Over a nice Connecticut barbecued chicken and a lively bottle of California wine, we talked about the ways in which our eating cultures differ.

They pointed out that the French really don’t exercise the way we do.  America has gyms that are open 24/7.  In contrast, their Club Med gyms, operated by the vacation package organizer, don’t even open till 7:00 AM…meaning anyone with a job that starts early can forget about a morning workout.  And you’ll see 10 times as many people exercising in West Hartford than you will ever see in central Paris, something they noticed during a tour of the lovely WeHa Center.  Parisians do, however, walk… a LOT. They walk to work, to dinner, up flights of stairs …all part of their life and daily routine.

Our so-called American “food obsessions” have not taken hold in Paris.  The anti-carb craze that got underway a few years ago had an impact there, but was hardly the craze we had here. Nor has the gluten-free movement caught on there.  Just as well, when you think about all that great French bread, most of which I cannot eat myself, being gluten free!  Americans seem to have a significantly greater number of people with Celiac or at least ‘wheat intolerance’.  Much of that may have to do with our increasing practice of modifying our produce…hardy and abundant, but with potential side effects, according to some studies.

But, the main difference between them and us, believe it or not, is that they seem to eat less! Small breakfasts, small portions, lots of fresh vegetables.

“If a French guy knows he’s going to have a fancy dinner, with a three-course meal, he will take it easy on lunch,” David said. “He’ll usually skip the dessert, but on an ordinary day he has no qualms about having a small piece of high-quality chocolate with his afternoon coffee.  And you rarely ever see a Frenchman or woman having too much to drink…it’s seen as uncivilized.”

“They have a different relationship with food from Americans,” Nicola points out. “In America, it’s almost like it’s sometimes just a way of filling your face. In France, it’s a sensual thing. The fact that you can buy a 24-pack of instant ramen here, to me, says food is purely a means of alleviating hunger pangs, it’s not something to be savored, there’s no ritual in the preparation or the experience of dining.”

“They’re eating alone in front of the TV or at their computer,” Nicola added. “It’s like Americans have forgotten to enjoy it. I can go to fancy American grocery stores and buy really nice prepared food, but it’s like the definition of cooking has changed to the point that people think popping something into the microwave is cooking, even though just a decade ago they were cooking from scratch. That trend is catching on in Paris, too, unfortunately. People just don’t have enough time. But it’s a shame, because when you cook even basic meals from simple ingredients, you’re much more likely to have a healthy meal.”

I agree with David and Nicola. We need to take time eating and enjoying the preparation of our food.  The microwave actually depletes our food of nutrients that the body needs to thrive. In turn, we only crave more food to get the nutrients we are lacking.  We’ve become hardwired from our lifetime of ‘convenience’ to gain weight.  The resolution seems simple to me… start eating less.   Let’s decide to slow down, actually dine while talking with friends instead of cramming down quick, calorie-laden quantities of snacks just to get us to our next event.  Perhaps we should consider looking into those evening cooking classes at the local gourmet kitchen store and sign up with your significant other to learn how to prepare healthy delicious meals again.

Want to get healthy?  Take a note from the Parisians…savor your food AND your life!


Beauty Wherever you Land

Looking and Feeling Beautiful on the Go!
by Tammy Kroll

These are amazing times.  Technology allows us opportunities to work, shop, run errands, from the comfort of our homes.  With online conferencing, virtual malls and even on-line grocery shopping, we don’t even have to leave our home!  A welcome respite from constantly checking our look in the mirror as we rush out the door. We can do it all from home…until we begin to let ourselves ‘go’.  You know… no make-up (your being ‘natural’), P.J.s until noon (and beyond), the ‘messy’ bun (passé), and slightly atrophied after having only lifted coffee cups!  And God forbid you get comfortable enough to saunter out to the mailbox in your robe!  Settled in that groove, what if your home business, your boss, or other life circumstances dictate you leave your feathered nest to travel?  Would your pale face panic at the thought?  Here are some tips to ease the transition:

In The Nest

My recommendation…sleep in!  Or at least let the light of the day wake you. A jarring alarm does nothing for health and can even shock your system.  Instead, waken to the musical chirps of our feathered friends.  Getting to bed early sets your body’s clock naturally. Naps are also good for your looks.  Invest in a comfortable sleep mask to keep out natural light.  20 minutes is all that is needed to look and feel refreshed

Do not live on coffee alone.  Coffee is dehydrating.  Rather, start with an energy fueled breakfast like an organic, veggie laden omelet and green tea which is preferable for beautiful skin and weight control.   Break for lunch!  Hopefully you have lost the flannels and dressed for success at this point and can meet a friend or client for some sushi (rich in skin loving Omega 3’s).  Staying connected with others is vital to remain in good health.

Working from home gives you many beautifying opportunities that those of the traditional working world aren’t allowed.  Before a round of client phone calling, comb a 30 minute deep conditioning treatment thru your hair.  Conference call?  Slather on an exfoliating facial mask or use an at home teeth bleaching kit. Video call?  Then maybe a detoxifying foot soak to slough off dead skin and get ready for the beach.  Or, for your own fun, apply a self-tanner just before and see who notices your change in color.  Self-tanners give a natural looking glow without aging damage from the sun. Use one without mineral oil that absorbs into skin without streaking.  Cover entire areas, avoiding dry spots.  Exfoliating first ensures an even application.

Break from work, errands, and on-line shopping to try some healthy yoga or a new dance fitness game.  Circle the block on your bike or take a quick walk.  Hit a few whiffle golf balls in the back yard.  Even 30 min. daily can make a difference in how you look and feel, again, adding glow to our skin.  Many of us work from home for the flexibility so take advantage of that and have some healthy fun.

In Flight (Traveling)

Bring that mask to catch up on beauty sleep. Whether it’s daytime or your seat mates are reading, the mask will keep you drifting in dreamland.  Neck pillows are great to avoid ‘cricks’ and the blow up ones pack well.  Your favorite pashmina can double as a blanket.

Drink plenty of water before you take flight.   Remember, water is not allowed into the airport terminals.  Once through, buy yourself some bottled water.  It’s needed to fight the dry effects of inflight air.  Pour a few drops in your hand and pat all over face and arms to stay refreshed.  Purchase a mini skin spritzer with a refreshing citrus or relaxing lavender scent.  Just be sure the ounces meet inflight guidelines.

It’s also important to keep skin moisturized.  Most skincare lines offer sample sizes perfect for traveling.  Contact your skincare provider for samples of favorite products and pop them in your travel kit for a little skin refreshment.  Pat some all over your face soon after you’ve used your skin spritzer.  Make sure your travel kit contains a lip moisturizer or gloss, preferably with SPF20 or more and reapply often while in flight.  Keep the rest of your makeup simple.  Forgo the foundation and shadows opting for powdered bronzer instead, lightly brushing on cheekbones, forehead and chin.  Clear eyebrow gel vs. mascara defines and keeps lashes moisturized avoiding smudges during sleep.

Gone are the glory days of balanced meals on even long flights.  Eat well and take your vitamins before you travel to keep energy up.   Peanuts, served on most flights, offer a good source of protein (the honey roasted ones may contain wheat and should be avoided if you are gluten sensitive). When asked for a drink, order orange juice with immunity boosting vitamin C or tomato juice both loaded with skin enhancing anti-oxidants.  Order them without ice to get the most benefit.  Order more water. Again, avoid coffee. Carry protein bars to avoid starchy, sugar-laden snacks that sap energy.

Practice these simple steps and let your beauty take flight!


Making the New Year Beautiful

Eight Easy Steps to help create new you…inside and out!
by Shari Phillips

Every year I vow never to make another New Year’s resolution that I know I cannot keep (I tend to be over zealous in my expectations). Two years ago I made a healthy resolution and stuck with it and wow, did that change my life. Then 2011 came around and I slumped back into my indifference and did I pay for that decision. Now that 2012 is here, my body yearns for the regimentation that was so successful when I made that commitment to myself.  So I give you this thought to examine: Do you really believe that you can be a happier, healthier, more successful and beautiful you? Take a moment to ponder this one, it’s very important. Before you can achieve these goals, you must have faith in your own willpower to get you there. Only then can you submit to a new life process and reap the benefits. I have decided again that yes, I can challenge myself and be successful, so I am going to share with you the strategies I used back then, and will use again this time around.

Surround yourself with nurturing rituals. Establish a well-rounded network of coaches, mentors, or personal trainers who can help you stay on course. Remember the phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child”? Going it alone leaves you feeling like you’re always fighting uphill battles. The load is always easier when shared and always exciting when you have a cheering section. Explore regular meditation and keep a daily journal. When I first started to meditate I went immediately to sleep. As I gained momentum in my journey to healthier living, I found my breathing technique and learned how to use it to manage stress, improve sleep and center myself during a busy day. Also, I purchased a notebook and recorded my days,  uncovering connections between what I ate and how I felt, noting times of the day when I needed to practice breathing exercises to improve my path.  It also became a tool that I would record data to share with my healthcare provider.

Get acquainted with aromatherapy. Whether it comes in the remembered scent of a flower-filled garden where you played as a child or baking bread, we all know the transporting and transcending powers of these familiar, happy smells. One whiff and our minds take us away from our current cares and concerns, back to our warmest and happiest moments. This powerful, transporting experience is the basis for the magic of aromatherapy. By exposing ourselves to plant and flower essences that arouse nurturing feelings in us, we can manipulate our brain chemistry to affect our behavior in a positive way. I found using aromatherapy in my hot bath every night helped to ease me into a gentle sleep.

Humor. Is there anything better than a child’s laughter? I feel totally rejuvenated after one of those belly laughs and I love the contagious laughter to lift my spirits. Try using this technique, when you answer your telephone, smile while you say hello. Note the positive reaction from the individual on the other end of the phone. Think back to a group you may have encountered when you just had to smile because you were drawn in to their laughter.

beautyMiddleCoupleListen to Emily Dickinson and practice healthy skin care.  As Emily Dickinson wrote, “Beauty is not caused. It is.” Youthful, healthy, radiant skin, these are all things we wish for. We can achieve them-by nurturing our skin properly, by promoting a clean environment, by being as peaceful as we can be, and by getting in touch with our own individual beauty and style. Beauty is closely related to the health of the mind and body, and to the conditions of our surroundings. When our health is weak, when we are stressed out, or when we are exposed to too many harmful pollutants, it shows on our faces. Use plant based, non-petrochemical cleansers, moisturizers, sunscreens, hair and body products and make-up and let your healthy living and hard work shine!

Incorporate massages into your weekly schedule. There is evidence that massaging promotes healing in many ways. It helps our bodies’ many systems to release toxins, increase blood flow, and deliver nutrients to all parts of the body. The soothing touch it involves helps us to feel connected and loved. I try and schedule mine at the end of my day thereby taking full advantage of the relaxation both mentally and physically.

Exercise. Yoga, tai chi, Pilates and aerobics whatever you like.  When we were children, we didn’t mind exercising. Most of us considered it “playing”: riding bikes, swimming, running, etc. and, as a result, it had a buoyant effect on our spirits. It’s probably a good idea to reconnect to that playful spirit before we approach a new exercise program especially those of us who approach it with dread. The benefits are abundant. We increase our heart rate and our immunity, raise our metabolism, manage our weight, lower our blood pressure, release stress and toxins, tone our muscles, strengthen the connection among mind, body, and spirit, prolong our youthfulness, build good cholesterol, and generally lengthen our lives. And if that’s not enough to get us moving think of how glowing you will look after a stretching exercise and a mile or two walk!

Eat organic foods: balancing the chemistry of your diet intelligently, with good amounts of protein and essential fatty acids, and a modest amount of carbohydrates. Tailoring daily diet and eating habits to your specific needs, using the wisdom of the ancient indigenous traditions and the latest scientific discoveries about food chemistry as it relates to body chemistry and blood type.

Finally, most importantly: Love.



Beauty…Just How Deep is it?

Beautiful style begins with self-confidence
by Shari Phillips

My great-grandmother always reminded me that beauty is only skin deep. However, I think I’m going to go out on a family limb and disagree with how our family really judged the true beauty of a woman.

Beauty can be skin deep, but when I remember the person my great-grandmother was, I realize that beauty certainly starts much deeper than the skin. A remarkable woman, seemingly ahead of her time: she was generous, always tending to others’ needs before her own, and yet ambitious and self aware, because she always knew how to connect with what she desired, and balanced both sides graciously. This became my benchmark for success as a woman.

She was that woman we all seem to know in our own social circles…that self-confident woman radiating with a natural sense of style, creating her own individual beauty. I’m sure that comes to many people, in time, with life’s experiences and maturity…but sadly, not everyone attains this inner ease.

I love to watch today’s youth evaluate their contributions to style. For instance, my niece is seven years old and ever since she was four you could not pick out her clothes or even get involved with her fashion ‘preparation’.  She as an uncanny talent and love for mixing just the right colors, patterns and lengths with fun accessories to suit her personality and hone her own style, caring little for the opinions of others. Consequently, she already has a look of a self-assured young woman, really comfortable with herself.

Normally, as we grow older and socially ‘arrive’, we tend to seek the approval of our peers and thereby adapt someone else’s look blended into ours. We are susceptible to others criticisms which can unfortunately drive away much of our confidence. Sadly, many of us feel inadequate inside and out.

The good news is that we all have the potential to enhance our beauty!

Today we are reconnecting to traditions steeped in daily practices of self-awakening, self-realization, and self-appreciation… a wonderful opportunity to admit to ourselves what we like about our looks, about our expressions, and about our bodies. This is truly where beauty lives. And it is where it seeps through the skin becoming a marriage of one’s own harmonic dance.

Then comes the layering. Choose styles that work for you and your lifestyle so you will never have to consider whether you are in fashion or not. Trends are just that, temporary! Once you build on a classic tried and true foundation you can do anything that defines your style. Watch people. Learn from someone you admire. Choose make-up and hairstyles that compliment your face and head shape. Get real and check out your body shape when making a style decision and be sure to dress your body with love.

Always take into consideration your lifestyle first. Seriously, showing up to play golf with four-inch heels probably won’t win you any accolades.

True beauty goes deep into the soul but you can recognize it right on the surface; just check the eyes…