Fitness Freakout Tuesday, Jan 25 2011 

The ring on my left hand has kick-started my workout regimen into high gear. Every day I head to the gym, eager to work up a sweat, burn some Capn’ Crunch calories and tone up all those soon-to-be-revealed-in-wedding-dress problem areas. But the overcrowded, frantic gym space does little to boost my motivation and energy. Here are a few tips to help fend off those gym jerks and get your workout in properly, despite the January crowd!

(photo courtesy of treadmillreview.net)

Rule 1: Be Selfish…

That’s right, a bitchy gym-goer is a satisfied gym-goer. Unless you go for a group exercise class (which I highly recommend: Pilates at the FAC, Tuesday 5pm-6pm and Thursday 7am-8amJ), you’re not there to win friends and influence people. There’s no need to push and shove, but definitely put that little spring in your step and “no prisoners” look on your face when you’re heading to the last open elliptical. Of course wave and say hi to people you recognize, but don’t stop walking in the middle of the floor and scream about the latest text you received or how great it is that class got out early yesterday. You don’t have to be mean and ignorant of those around you, but don’t feel like you need to “pick your battles” and let eeveryone else finish their workout before you can start.

Rule 2:…But Not Inconsiderate

When you’ve crunched a million crunches and you lay back luxuriously onto the cool mat, you’ve earned that 80-second lounge. But when you sprawl out, taking up way too much space on the too-small conditioning mat that everyone has to share, or you sit there with both legs stretched out for a 15-minute conversation about your manicure, you have crossed the gym etiquette line. Please enjoy your workout, rest and restore your energy, and then get off your butt and move. Please and thank you. No one sweating or grunting around you needs to be 6 inches away from your smelly foot while you sit there, calm as can be, not working out just chatting about the upcoming weekend. And please, if you’re going to talk, take out the freaking headphones so not everyone hears your screaming voice. Please and thank you.

Rule 3: Gyms are Germy

Wipe down your equipment. Would you want to grab a weight or the handlebar of an exercise bike where some 300-pound Sumo wrestler or bodybuilder had just sweated off their entire protein shake? Didn’t think so. Just assume that someone similar was there before you, so take the time to wipe off the common surface with a paper towel BEFORE AND AFTER use. It takes what, three seconds? And it keeps the gym a happy, healthy, safe environment for everyone. Everyone has to share, and sharing is caring, but please keep your sweat to yourself. This includes wiping down dumbbells, larger weights, resistance balls and your damp little spot on the mats after you’re finished.

Rule 4: Avoid the Problem

If you love the social interaction that comes with endorphins and activity, maybe the gym floor isn’t the best place for you. Grab some girlfriends who love to gab while sweating, and hit up a group class. To really get your heart rate up, pop in some old-school fitness DVDs and bust a move in the privacy of your own home. That way, you can stop mid-step or mid-sentence to laugh at a hilarious joke or re-arrange your position without hindering and annoying all the strangers around you at the gym. Throw in a quick exercise tape, sprawl out your little yoga mat, and have at it. No rolled eyes or evil glances will be thrown your way.

Please don’t take offense to this no-nonsense matter of exercise. Just remember that everyone at the gym wants to work as hard as you do, if not more so. Be respectful of people that are training for an athletic event, or trying really hard to lose weight. Not everyone sees it as the enjoyable, social atmosphere that you do. Remember to stay in your zone and let others feel the burn on their own. Your abs and your fellow gym rats will thank you.

Pet Health Thursday, Jan 20 2011 

With the New Year health trend in full swing, we’re all hitting the gym, foregoing the triple shot fat lattes and thinking more about how to improve our overall health and wellness. But between the new sneakers, dumbbells in each hand, counting calories and running straight to the gym after work, we may be forgetting one major aspect in our lives: our furry friends!

Studies and researchers have shown that owning and caring for a pet can increase one’s health and longevity of life.

The Queen’s University (reports courtesy of Giuliana Rancic’s www.fabfitfun.com) has released reports that those who own dogs tend to have lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Guess all those long, brisk walks in the park are doing their job!

Minnesota Stroke Institute conducted a study revealing that kitty lovers are at a lower risk for heart disease. So all the cuddling and cooing sessions with the cute kittens are keeping your heart healthy!

So since owning a pet keeps you healthy and fit, how can you return the favor? In winter, it’s hard to get out for those long walks or ball-throwing sessions with the pooches. But don’t let that stop you from working out and getting in some quality outdoor time with your prized pup. Let him come out and jump around while you shovel the driveway- maybe even throw some bright pink tennis balls so they don’t get lost in the snow. And depending on the size of breed you currently cozy up to, make sure they’re properly prepared for the elements, whether it’s a cute little sweater or leg warmers and booties. Keep them fit and moving, and don’t let them start to shiver!

(photo courtesy of my iPhone- this is my gorgoeus puppy Crockett!)

For the feline friends, if you do let them venture outside, be sure they come in every night during the chilly temperatures. Usually, this isn’t hard, since they’re dying for a warm place to curl up, but if for some reason they linger, consider putting a little blanket or rug on your front stoop for them in case they don’t get your attention late at night. Even if they’re out in the cold, that’s better for their little bodies than sleeping on the cold ground. And be sure to give them lots of food and warm snuggles as soon as you see them in the morning! Keep their heart rate up by dangling colorful strings- this will also help keep their energy level up during the day so they’ll be happy to snooze next you come bedtime.

Check with your vet and favorite pet store for more ideas about how to keep your pet healthy and happy during the long winter months while you focus on your own body, mind and soul.

Holy High Necklines Tuesday, Jan 18 2011 

When asking my father if he had any advice or input on what I should keep in mind before I set off on the hunt for my wedding dress, his reply was that of a typical conservative, protective father in denial that his little girl is growing up.

“High neck.”

Huh?

The puzzled look on my face must have expressed my confusion and question at this fashion choice.

“Of the weddings I’ve been to, the classiest, most beautiful brides have worn a higher collar.”

Hmmmm.

Granted, looking back at photos of my parents’ wedding in 1987, my mother’s wedding gown did indeed fit that description. The neckline reached the collarbone and the lace sleeves whispered just at the wrist, but overall, the look was elegant and not too “prudish” or “conservative”. The see-through lace with fabric bodice gave off a lovely, simply classic vibe.

This got me thinking about the illusion that many of us have now about the High Neck. Yes, the boatneck is very popular for the country club and Vera Bradley crew in summer, but rarely do we ever consider it a serious choice for a “Wow” moment necessary of wedding gown or Red Carpet stunner.

However, at Sunday’s 68th Golden Globe Awards, I was dazzled by how many A-list Hollywood stars dazzled (literally, since high neck went hand-in-hand with glitter). The glitz certainly helped combat the “matronly” connotation, and stars like Angelina Jolie, Anne Hathaway and others hid their décolleté beneath a swarm of elegant beading and jewels, to pull of an incredibly sophisticated and enchanting look.

The first glimpse that High Neck could be sexy: Hillary Swank, here in her Oscar-winning gown……

(photo courtesy of http://www.google.com/imgres imgurl=http://www.rothschildimage.com/images/o/oscars_2005_hilary_swank.jpg)

Of course, Angelina could wear a white marshmellow sack and still look amazing. Her curves really shine in this emerald Versace….

(photo courtesy of http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/gossip/2011/01/golden-globes-red-carpet-angelina-jolie-justin-bieber.html)

One of my favorites of the night. Anne Hathaway is breathtaking in this  apricot-colored Armani Prive number. The high neck glamour and her effortless style even make the shoulderpads look chic.

(photo courtesy of  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/16/golden-globes-2011-best-dressed-photos_n_809736.html#225153)

One of the night’s big winners opted for a high neckline, in this gorgeous blush and coral colored Calvin Klein.

(photo courtesy of http://celebrity-gossip.net/golden-globe-awards-2011/photo/claire-danes-5)

High necklines are elegant and chic, and here to stay! What are your thoughts?

Just for the record, I did not take my dad’s advice about the high neck. My chest won’t be totally exposed though- I chose a beautiful one shoulder option.

Exercise Chic Monday, Jan 10 2011 

In honor of the New Year and the plethora of resolutions to get healthier, more toned or slimmer, and also my own new bridal workout regimen, I’ve decided to dedicate this post to all things exercise. Yes, it is possible to look put together, if not all together glamorous, while working on your fitness!

I was watching an old episode of The Rachel Zoe Project (yes, it’s official, I’m obsessed) which featured a sneak peek at a magazine shoot with Zoe client and yoga buff Molly Sims. When Molly was striking yoga pose after yoga pose for the magazine, I thought of how mainstream fashion is dominated by outerwear, boots, jackets, denim, sweaters and blouses. What about the fashionable world of exercise?

Empires exist solely to provide comfortable and adorable clothes worthy of our sweatiest workout routine, be it yoga or cardio circuit training. While most of us throw on some ratty old sweatpants and an oversized T shirt before we hit the gym, we are acting in ignorance of the plethora of fashionable options for our daily trek to the gym.

Here are just a few fabulous bright colored creations that offer a perfect blend of comfort, with their breathable fabric and soft styles, with just a punch of style in the form of a bold color or eccentric print. That should help you brave the coming cool weather, when it gets harder to drag yourself out of bed to keep up the fitness instead of hitting the “snooze” button one more time. Have a great workout!

The “Power-Y Tank” is great for all types of cardio and stretching- built in shelf bra keeps you supported without the extra bulk of a sports bra, and the patented lululemon fabric wicks away sweat to keep you cool throughout the whole day! Shown here in river rock, but the colors are phenomenal!

(photo courtesy of http://www.lululemon.com)

For bottoms: All those tricky poses in yoga and Pilates require the perfect pair of pants that will allow you to move freely while preventing you from flashing the whole class. These are the most comfortable pants ever! And the funky colors of the waistband jazz up any sluggish workout on the treadmill.

(photo courtesy of http://www.lululemon.com)

Finally, here are the best selections of jackets to keep you warm on your way to and from the gym, or on your early morning runs on the chilly mornings!  You may have seen me rocking this “Stride” jacket in grey at Loyola’s FAC for my Pilates classes (shameless plug: Tuesdays at 5pm and Thursday morning 7am please come try it this semester!) because it is my absolute favorite piece of comfy clothing in the world! It keeps me warm and doubles as a silky smooth pillow on my long flights, and the thumb-holes keep the sleeves in place all throughout your workout!

(photos courtesy of http://www.lululemon.com)

So enjoy your exercise wardrobe for the new year full of fitness fun! See you at the gym:)

Full of Glee for Gwyneth Wednesday, Jan 5 2011 

Behold Gwyneth. Even her name is gorgeous and makes you feel more sophisticated when you speak it. I’ve always thought she was one of those actresses that made me really proud when she speaks in interviews and you hear her beautifully American voice- that she can recite Shakespeare in such an eloquent British accent without actually being European. InStyle‘s most recent anniversary cover girl has the undeniable chicness that most people associate with Europe, but she also possesses that adorable, American girl next door quality.

In honor of Gwyneth’s recent foray into the music world, with her dazzling singing on Glee and her new movie with Tim McGraw, I’d like to take a leisurely look back at her fabulous fashion choices.

(photo courtesy of discotraxx.com)

Of course, perhaps her most famous fashion moment came way back in 1998 when she won the Best Actress Academy Award for Shakespeare in Love at the tender age of 26. Sure, we’ll all be able to do that a few years from now. This delicious pink Ralph Lauren creation ensured her place atop fashion’s princess throne forever.

(photo courtesy of style.com)

Here, at the 2010 CFDA Awards, Gwyneth shines in a Michael Kors, standing next to the designer himself. Her Fred Leighton jewels only add to her effortless and elegant style. Gwyneth has always been able to rub elbows with royalty of the acting and fashion industries ever since a young age.

(photo courtesy of mirror.co.uk)

She’s Stella McCartney’s best friend for crying out loud! Gwyneth exudes sexy confidence while modeling this nude silk and voile gown at the 2005 Academy Awards.

(photo courtesy of paloma.com)

Of course, Mrs. Chris Martin also encapsulates the effortless,  “America’s Sweetheart” look off the red carpet as well. She rocks casual in this simple black button down at a Calvin Klein fashion show in 2002. Her wavy hair brings that moment of “I just naturally look this divine” that makes Gwyneth so relatable. In a Oscar winning movie star sort of way.

(photo courtesy of eonline.com)

For those of you who didn’t experience Gwyneth’s character Holly Holiday (yes, that was really her name) belt out “Forget You” in a way that made everyone forget who Cee-Lo even was or what the actual lyrics ever were, here is a shot of her “singing in the rain” (spectacular ending scene spoiler alert) with Matthew Morrison, aka yummy Mr. Schu. She’s almost 40. It should be illegal to look this good in black leather.

So pop in your Shakespeare in Love or Emma or Sylvia (I swear, she’s really not British!) and enjoy a healthy dose of GOOP. Or just sit back and enjoy the style icon and the wonder that is Gwyneth. That should hold you over until her majestic performance (she sings again, yay!) in the upcoming Country Strong.