8.26.2008

Exercise and the Art of Upper Body Maintenance

Exercise is a tricky topic for me. I'm not the type to go to the gym everyday for two hours. I prefer to spread my movement throughout the day- like the French do! When I lived in France in 2001 I became the ultimate lifestyle detective. I noticed that French women preferred to walk to the market or work- or up 9 flights of stairs in lieu of hitting the gym. And I never saw a French woman in sneakers. Quelle Horreur! I took what inspiration I could from them and ran.

Here is what a typical day for me is like- exercise wise:

When I first wake up, I do yoga for a minimum of 10 minutes. This is more for my peace of mind than anything else. I love stretching and breathing deeply. This really starts me off on the right foot. This is usually followed by 5 - 10 minutes of meditation- which is more exercise for my brain in how to quiet down! Then later in the day I usually take my dog, Gatsby for a 40 minute power walk. Good for me, good for the dog! Lastly, my husband and I live in a three story town house so usually late at night, right before I go to bed, if it strikes my fancy, I usually walk up and down all three flights of stairs 10- 15 times. You get the idea.

This was all great but I became concerned that I wasn't toning my upper body and using weights. Well, as you can imagine, all of these mini exercises that I fit into my day leave room for little else, so I've developed a plan. On weeknights my husband and I watch between one and two hours of TV- a girl's got to keep up with her shows! So I now do reps while watching our favorite shows or during commercials (if I'm not watching our dvr). I'm starting out small- 20 reps of each arm move with 5lb weights. I am loving the results and don't feel guilty just collapsing on the couch!

We'll see how long this goes. I do tend to get bored doing the same thing all the time. I would be interested to find other ways to incorporate exercise into my day...

Spiritual Practice- Incorporate movement and exercise into as many parts of your day as you can. It will help you stay present and remind you to breathe!

8.25.2008

Vicky Christina Barcelona and Movie Etiquette


Last night my husband and I went to see Woody Allen’s latest film, Vicky Christina Barcelona at the Loews theatre on Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. Firstly, I must say I am not very fond of this theatre- it never feels clean and there is not very much legroom. I must prefer the Landmark at Westside Pavilion. It is a beautiful, brand new complex with stadium seating in its larger arenas and leather love seats in its smaller venues. The best thing about the Landmark is that you can pick your seat! No waiting in line or guessing where you’ll end up sitting! Love that!

Now back to Vicky Christina Barcelona. I love this film. I knew I would. I am a big fan of Woody Allen and I think that he is highly underrated. I’m not sure what people expect from this man but he has written and directed over 40 films in his career and has produced some of the most humorous scenarios and witty dialogues I have seen on the big screen (2005’s Match Point directed by Allen is one of my favorite films of all time).

Love, lust and intrigue against the sun-drenched backdrop of Barcelona. Who wouldn’t love that? The casting was spot on, the actors were pitch perfect and the directing was polished. My only complaint with the film was with the clothes. I wasn’t sure why Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall, two beautiful women, were traipsing around Barcelona in frumpy, wrinkled linen pants and baggy button down shirts. I know that was a choice but am unclear as to what it was meant to convey.

Let’s move on to movie etiquette. There is an on going joke amongst my friends and me that I have a curse when it comes to the cinema. I only go to the movies if it is a movie that I am dying to see (otherwise why waste my time). And whenever I go, I always sit next to “that person” that talks throughout the film. The movie going experience for me is a sacred one. I love getting there early and securing my seat. (Unless, of course, I am at the Landmark and it has been selected beforehand). I love popcorn, the previews and totally submerging myself in the world of the film. If I am sitting next to someone who talks periodically, I am taken out of the world of the film. I usually try to implement my spiritual practice during these moments, and rather than stressing out and getting testy, I take a deep breath and accept the moment as it is.

There was a period of time, however, where I was sitting next to the “groaner”. This man, who loves to frequent movie theatres in Santa Monica, and groan loudly during the best parts of the film. Lucky for me, other patrons of the theatre yelled at him to “shut up or die”, and I didn’t have to.

I hadn’t seen the groaner for a long time… until last night. My husband and I had ideal seats in the middle of the theatre. It was slowly filling up, when a very disheveled man with a baseball cap and earphones in his ears, sauntered up to the front of the theatre and leaped into an available seat. The whole way, he was talking to himself. Loudly. Not like on an earphone headset- but to himself. Then he proceeded to take off his shoes and splay his feet on the seat before him. Not groomed feet.

Oh no, I thought, this for sure was the groaner. And why, was he in my viewing of Vicky Christina Barcelona? I had been waiting to see this film for 6 months! Concerned moviegoers looked around at each other. Was this a homeless man that had found his way into the theatre? Was he going to talk the whole way through? I started to panic. What did I do to deserve this curse?

At that point, my husband reminded me to be in the moment and accept the circumstances as they were. I took a deep, cleansing breath and even started laughing. The previews came. The opening credits rolled. And sure enough, Mr. Bad Movie Etiquette got up and left the theatre! It was a miracle! And I was left to thoroughly enjoy, the love, lust, mayhem and intrigue that was Vicky Christina Barcelona.

Spiritual Practice: Pause when agitated. Take deep cleansing breaths and accept the moment as it is. Things just might turn in your favor!

8.24.2008

Adventures in Airbrush Tanning!

I had dabbled in self-tanners and tanning beds. Now it was time for the ultimate experience. The custom airbrush tan from Portofino Sun Spa! Luckily I walked up to the salon to make my appointment because I got to dish with the girl at the counter and find out exactly what I needed to do before my sunless tanning experience. She was very friendly and helpful and didn’t seem in the least bit shocked that I had never gotten a spray tan before.

Here were the particulars I needed to know before my appointment. I needed to:
- Exfoliate my entire body the evening before
- Shave my legs for smoothest application
- Not wear lotion, deodorant or make up the day of my appointment
- Wear loose, dark clothing and open toed shoes

Who knew? Whenever I had seen people getting spray tans on TV, like on E!’s Sunset Tan, for example, I had seen women with full-blown make up getting a spray tan. I’m glad I came in beforehand to learn that that is not done at Portofino.

Anyway, the next day, I came fully prepared for my custom tan experience. I was shown into a back room with my tanning associate- I’ll call her Brigit. I told Brigit I had never gotten a spray tan before and I wasn’t sure what the protocol was with regards to what to wear (or not to wear as the case may be). She said most women are naked while they get their tan. I, being modest in nature, opted to keep my undies on. This whole experience was foreign to me anyway and I felt more comfortable with my pants on.

I was instructed to step into the elevated booth that had fabulous faux croc leather wallpaper. Brigit then asked me which scent I would like in my custom tanning mix. The options were vast and varied from cucumber melon, to lavender. I opted for coconut, as I wanted to smell like I just got back from the Virgin Islands. She proceeded to spray on my new faux glow for the next 15 or so minutes. They are very thorough in that you must do a number of yoga-like positions in order for the tan to be evenly distributed across the body.

When it was all through I couldn’t believe how dark I was! My first reaction was not necessarily a good one. I thought I looked good but it didn’t look like me. I was EXTREMELY dark. Brigit informed me that I would be dark for a few hours and then it would go down, especially after I took my first shower, eight hours later.

It probably wasn’t wise for me to schedule a meeting for 11am (only a half an hour after I had gotten my tan). I was interviewing a girl for my husband’s shoe shop. He and his family own a fabulous European shoe business and they have a store on Montana Ave., just a few blocks down from Portofino.

I assumed that I would just walk out of the Sun Spa with a fabulous tan. It took a few hours to get to that fabulous state… in the meantime; I was incredibly dark, verging on orange.

It was probably in my imagination but my interviewee kept eyeing my skin in a suspicious manner. Later that day, my tan still dark and fierce, I went to see my husband at the warehouse. “Why are you orange?” Is the first thing he said to me.

Great. My worst tanning fear was realized. I holed myself in our townhouse and texted my fab actress friend. This was a beauty crisis. We traded lol’s between tanning anecdotes as I mused that this must be normal. I mean EVERYONE in Los Angeles gets a spray tan, don’t they?

My worries were in vein. Eight hours later, I washed my face and the bronzer in the tan came right off. I had the perfect glow to my skin. And the next morning, after my shower, my tan looked perfect and really natural! It is now five days after having gotten my custom spray tan and it is still going strong. The whole experience was a little harrowing and even more expensive (when all was said and done after tip, it was over $100). But the experience was positive.

Due to the price I probably wont get a spray tan too often (I am a recessionista after all). But I will try out some self-tanners as we head into fall. The next one I’m going to use is “Faux Tan” by Bare Escentuals.

What I gained from this whole experience? Don’t take beauty too seriously. Have fun with yourself and remember that laughter gives you the best glow!

PS- I do wish, however, that I hadn’t worn my Victoria’s Secret boy shorts during the tan because now I have the funkiest tan lines! I don’t know what I was thinking! Should have worn bathing suit bottoms.
 
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