Haiti - December 2014

MOTIVATION: 13+ years down the line, what keeps me going?

If ever there is any topic I'm e-mailed about most, it is this one. 


Since starting low-carbing in 2001, my weight and dress size have remained stable.  After years of tireless calorie and fat gram-counting with the daily cardio I had done since the 5th grade yet inexplicably never losing an ounce and after finally finding my ace in the hole of staying permanently slim, energetic, and incredibly content with my physique, I'm sure you can understand my unwillingness to backslide.  Forget it!  These 36-23½-35½ measurements I've worked for are here to stay.


In terms of how I keep making the right decisions to stay away from high-carb fare, that's easy.  I made up my mind that this is what I want, and made that commitment.  I just do it.  After all, it's a choice.  Plus, it helps to have a cheat day every month or two to keep me in order - and for maintenance, this works for me.  I take a full day off - no rules - and knowing that one's just passed and there's another coming is what keeps me 100% on-track right up until and immediately following.  Actually, there is one rule:  one day only.


While I always had motivation, it only increased as I committed to Atkins.  If I want something, it's mine ... and trust me, it's not because anything is given to me or comes easily.  On the contrary; I just give everything I do in life 100%, and don't allow myself to make excuses.  Not only do excuses waste time, they're ultimately no more than self-sabotaging, self-inflicted roadblocks - and I don't (won't) allow them to get in my way of personal achievements. 


Why should you?


My "secret" may be a bit of a letdown - but the fact is, motivation is innate.  You're the one in charge here.  You are the one who must decide which it is you want more (i.e., momentary fun or success), and you must be ready to make that permanent commitment.


Make No Mistake, Though:  It's Still an Effort For Me!

I will say this:  nighttime after dinner is the most trying time for me, because at times I want to nosh on things like nuts!   Even though I have nothing whatsoever against nighttime snacking (good thing, since I partake in it often.  A shake, bunless burger, shirataki noodles, Greek yogurt, or chicken breast are just a few examples of low-carb snack options) and do allow healthful nuts on a regular basis, I'll want to snack on more than what I know is my personal daily carb limit.  Sometimes I actually have to talk myself out of the higher-carb nut temptations - and thankfully, lower-carb nuts like walnuts, pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds often come to my rescue.  I call pumpkin seeds my "Slow-Mo Nuts," because a 16-carb bag will last me for an entire movie!


Food Isn't In Charge Here:  That's You


The above said, I have to say that keeping slim is easy (with Atkins, I continue to not restrict calories, fat, or portions), and yet at the same time it is a daily endeavor for me - and this little contradiction is important to reveal here on my website since my visitors should know that while I've successfully lost weight and maintain it, this has not changed my urges for overdoing the carbs at night!  Also, when it comes to low-carb baked goods, I reserve eating low-carb chocolate and/or my favorite low-carb treats - in reasonable amounts, of course - for weekends when I bake my desserts.  Knowing this is ahead, it keeps me on track on all other days of the week.  There is no "spiraling out of control" when it comes to maintenance and the way I eat; that is a path I make a conscious choice not to go. 


Done.  It's not magic; that's all it takes.


There is more to motivation than simply having it; because believe it or not, there is more to feeling and looking your best than merely getting to a lower number on the scale.  Boy, that only scratches the surface in terms of achieving your potential.  What I am trying to say here is that if you find yourself not having motivation, drive, and feel uninspired, then listen up:  this means that it is up to you to GENERATE it.  Cultivate it!  So essential is it to enhance and illuminate every facet of your own unique beauty in the meantime - and that is where the little details such as excellent Skincare, Makeup, Hair, an M.D.-approved Fitness Regime, Teeth, Nails and more come in.  My male audience can click on another page at this point; this page is for the ladies!


Self-improvement in all areas will heighten your confidence, magnify your self-esteem - and ultimately makes backsliding and plateauing catalyzed by cheating and binging (which is essentially self-disrespect, in my opinion) out of the question.  My own philosophy on beauty is this:  be high-maintenance so you can afford to be low-maintenance.  That's a head-scratcher for some; but read on.  It'll make sense.


Be meticulous about fitness and beauty routine, and you will find your appearance - particularly hair and makeup-primping time - to be minimized.  Nothing better than a wash-and-wear beauty.  There are so many areas to address for looking your best, and to get your wheels turning I will address just a few of them on this page.


Sailing out of Mexico


September 2013


Like the BRONZED Look?


Passion Island - Cozumel, Mexico


Do you tan using either the sun or tanning beds?  Stop immediately - it isn't that sunbeds are just as bad as tanning in the real sun:  they're actually worse.  UVA (aging) & UVB (burning) rays damage the DNA in the skin surface cells and contribute to skin cancer - and UVA rays damage even more deeply, damaging the layer under the skin surface, where damage to precious collagen and elastin can occur, leading ultimately to loss of elasticity of the skin.  (Read:  facial sagging.)  As you can tell from all other parts of this website, I don't mince words, so I'll lay it on the line here:  ever notice the often leathery, wrinkled faces of the 20-something employees behind the counters of many tanning salons?  Consider UVA rays responsible for this - and to add insult to injury, UVA rays contribute largely to melanoma.  Think you're not getting damage as long as you don't burn?  Any tanning of the skin, by its very virtue, is skin damage - much as the college-aged students behind the counters at tanning salons insist to the contrary.  As for D3:  I've actually heard about people using sunbeds because they've been told it's the best way to get it.  But did you know you can get this important vitamin via your diet and/or supplements?  Ask your M.D. what I.U. dosage of D3 is best for you.


But back to tanning. 


Waaaaait - aren't I tan in some of my photos? 

Destin, Florida

Destin, Florida Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Queens, New York  


Well, I'm naturally quite fair - see?


Bunless cheeseburger with added avocado along with a side salad at Gazeebo Burger in Plano, Texas


La Madeleine on Christmas Eve



But I just love how I feel when I have some color, so I get bronzed the UV-free way in the summertime.  Spray tans are great.  I've been doing those for many years - and the spray tan has come a long way in both the process and the color result since its inception!  But I do prefer spray tan booths as opposed to airbrushing.  Someone squatting nose-to-naval spraying me down with or without underthings doesn't appeal to me at all.


Exfoliate thoroughly (and also shave for even better results) the entire body from head to toe the day of your spray tan.  This will lessen chances of unevenness and enhance your tanning results, giving you a nice, seamless color.  Right before stepping in the booth, saturate hands and heels of palms and feet with lotion, rubbing in completely so it will not function as a barrier cream.  Use a thin layer of lotion as a barrier cream that you don't rub in on palms and fingernails only, and make sure the heels of your palms are not "globbed" with it as to avoid an obvious line of demarcation.  Add a bit of rubbed-in lotion to the elbows and knees as well, rubbing in completely, before stepping in the booth.  When I do a spray tan, I ask for "no bronzer" since I'm just going home anyway!  For some reason, the employees always get a kick out of this request.   


A Few Tips For After the Spray Tan:  Don't let yourself get wet for at least 6-8 hours.  You want to give that tan adequate time to develop fully.  Also, if this is your first time out, pay attention to how your hands look the next day.  If you find they're darker than your arms (sometimes that just happens, even after moisturizing them before stepping into the booth), then keep that in mind for your next spray tan.  An hour after you get home, wash only
hands with soap and water every couple of hours to help lighten them up.  Ditto for your feet.  I like my feet to match my face, so I'm anal about evenness, and this post-spray tan washing method really helps.  Machines can differ from salon to salon (or even from season to season if the salon has just upgraded), so you just have to try it out that first time.  You'll get the hang of it.  I'm such an old hand, I can do all this with my eyes closed at this point.


You'll wake up the next morning with a gorgeous tan - yet with no repercussions from UVA damage.  Best of both worlds.


A recent tweet pic after applying sunless tanner - the sunlight shining on my right leg makes it look darker than the other, gah!  But I heartily recommend mousses for the body; they really do dry right away.


Mexico.  FYI: I applied sunless tanner two nights in a row since I knew bikini pics were coming.  The overcast day ended up being a blessing, since it highlights muscle tone.


Okay, so here's my own method for sunless tanning in the summer.  As much as I like spray tans, I decline to devote the time or expense necessary to be heading to the salon every few days, or even weekly.  So here's what I do:


I have a spray-on tan every 2 weeks in the summer months, and then build and maintain at home every third night thereafter.  My favorite body self-tanners are foams and mousses as they dry so quickly.  You know, I've tried lotion formulas for the body and just can't stand them.  That sticky back-of-knee/crook-of-elbow feeling an hour, three hours (or more, ugh) after application?  Yeah, no patience for that.  But for me, lotion-gel formulas for the face, neck, and chest are fine.  Also, since I don't necessarily want to wait to do my sunless tan until my husband comes home from work that night so that he can take care of my back (see, you actually have to think about the logistics), I use a fast-drying, no-tint spray formula for my back.  Note:  I use latex gloves for body
application.  About 2 weeks later once the color begins looking a bit imperfect (I usually spot a bit of ugliness on the back of my wrist or crook of elbow), I sit in a bath for 30 minutes two nights in a row to lift the tan, then loofah all over to start the process all over again.  


My full summertime sunless tan arsenal.  The gel at left is for face/neck/chest.  Mousse is for arms/legs, which I apply with latex gloves.  Spray is for back & torso.  For that one, I step into my shower stall so none of it gets on my tile or walls, and I rub it in with that little paddle there.  An assistance-free self tan. 


Now if you're really in a hurry to get off all the tan right then and there ...

Go sit in a hot tub.  The chlorine will strip it all off fast.  After 30-60 minutes, it's gone.  I've heard about people going to the trouble to self tan for a trip to the water park, only to come home that night pale as a ghost.  Man, what a downer.  Ha!


Since I lack finesse for a perfect full-body application, doing a spray-on tan first provides a fail-safe, even "base."  Gradual tanners aren't for me, and I've tried starting from scratch by applying self-tanners - even those meant for
light complexions - on my fair skin.  It isn't pretty.  Looks like a chimp did it.  I could never get it right, so I don't try to!  Starting off with a spray-on makes the entire process stress-free and fool-proof.




Smoking and drinking are personal choices - but know that they also wreak havoc on your skin.  As if yellowed teeth and bad breath weren't enough, smoking damages skin cells by depriving them of oxygen (read: WRINKLES).  With excessive drinking comes the semipermanent flush on the face, puffiness in the skin, bloodshot eyes, and more.  People who do not know me too well might wonder to themselves if I choose not to drink because of religious reasons, pregnancy, maybe I have an early morning, or because I'm "recovering."  Oh Lord, no.  The boring truth is that I've simply always lacked a taste for alcohol - and for the reasons cited above, certainly lack the inclination to push an acquired taste for it.  However!  I love marinating chicken and beef in wine and beer, wine sauces, infusing cognac in my brownies, and I'll always taste something new - particularly if it's dry enough (i.e., low-carb) to set fire to it.  It's not that I'm closed off to the idea on principle.  I mean, I'm not just some stick in the mud!!


If you make the choice not to tan, congratulations!  But that's only half the battle since it isn't necessary for one to lay out by the pool or at the beach for the skin to endure sun damage - and this is where incidental sun exposure comes into play.  Your skin cares not where you are, so never leave your house without sunscreen!  In fact, you can experience sun damage by sunlight creeping in through the blinds of your windows.  A good rule of thumb:  if there's enough sun inside to read without a lamp, there's enough sun to damage.  On that note, keep in mind that you need BROAD-SPECTRUM protection.  A high SPF is one of two components to look for when
considering a particular brand - the other being, most importantly, the proper active ingredients.  Simply looking for a high SPF on a sunscreen is not sufficient, as this only refers to UVB (or burn) protection; however, keep in mind that you do not have to go high-end in order to get a high-quality sunscreen. I never do! I get all of my
sunscreens from pharmacies (drugstores). Again, an excellent sunscreen is all about its Sun Protection Factor (SPF), and especially its active ingredients.


So, which active ingredients to look for?  Below are the FDA-approved active ingredients ensuring the most effective protection:

  1. Titanium Dioxide (Physical protection - UVA & UVB filter)
  2. Zinc Oxide (Physical protection - UVA filter)
  3. Avobenzone ... also called butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane or "Parsol 1789"
    (Chemical protection - UVA filter)
  4. Helioplex (Not as UVA-protective as Mexoryl, Helioplex is the U.S.'s answer
    toMexoryl.  You can find this ingredient in Neutrogena sunscreens.)
  5. Terephthalylidene Dicamphor Sulfonic Acid & Drometrizole Trisiloxane
    ("MEXORYL SX" & "MEXORYL XL," respectively) - a chemical UVA filter.  You
    won't find these two ingredients in U.S. sunscreens, though.  Mexoryl SX was
    FDA-approved for a short time & used in the U.S. launch of of La Roche-Posay
    Anthélios in late 2006.  Not Mexoryl XL, mind you - just Mexoryl SX - and the
    European version yields both.  So, this version was inferior to its European
    counterpart, but a step in the right direction.  Well, L'Oreal for reasons to
    escape me subsequently did away with that singular Mexoryl SX ingredient - thus
    rendering it just like any U.S. sunscreen you'd find here.  But the price is
    still $30 ... and people still buy it thinking it's the "amazing La Roche-Posay Anthélios!!" sunscreen in Europe. ;)  I should mention that Anthélios SPF is under $20 in Europe anyway.  You can find it on the

Worth noting is the fact that the levels of these active ingredients are almost invariably more potent than U.S. sunscreens.  I highly recommend them.  Tinosorb - Another not-yet-FDA-approved chemical active ingredient.  This is in Avène sunscreens.  Make sure the active ingredient in a sunscreen you purchase is listed first & foremost in the Active Ingredients list - not last.  If you're going to spend the money, you may as well get your money's worth! 


Sunscreens I recommend:

  • La Roche Posay Anthélios - European version.  Many are not so hot in cosmetic elegance (some shiny; others with a white cast), but the Anthelios line rank among highest in UVA protection.  There are a lot to choose from and the best one for you might take some trial and error.
  • Neutrogena Clear Face SPF 30.  While not as potent in protection as European sunscreens, this one is great.  Not only that, it is completely clear and matte (cosmetic elegance - yes!!), doesn't cause any eye sting, and doesn't do that pencil eraser balling-up thing if you apply makeup over it afterward. 
    A Word About Application
  1. Shake for 20 seconds before applying.  Annoying, but necessary!
  2. A sunscreen's protection takes at least 20-30 minutes to take effect. Please
    take that into account, and time your applications accordingly - in other words,
    not as you are running out the door or are already atthe beach.
  3. How much to apply?  A quarter teaspoon-sized dollop for just the face alone
    is required.  For example, if you're applying just an eighth of a teaspoon of an
    SPF 45 sunscreen, even one with 2-3% of chemical active
    ingredient Avobenzone/Parsol 1789, you're actually getting about an SPF of 10
    - at the most.  Apply another quarter-sized amount to the neck.  As for the
    body: a shotglass-sized amount (at least!) is required to cover everywhere else.
  4. "Waterproof"? "Water-resistant"?  No such thing.  The second you get out of
    the water, reapply!
  5. How often to apply even if you stay dry?  Every 2 hours, as this is the
    extent of protection for even the most fab-ingredient, highest-SPF
    sunscreen.  Since I personally don't want to bother with reapplication, I simply
    limit my daily sun exposure to well under 2 hours a day.  Plus, I have Llumar UVShield
    on all my car and home windows.  It filters out 99.9% both UVA & UVB rays. 
    So I literally only get sun walking from to and from my car and when riding in
    other peoples' cars.  I got the tint in my new home as well in 2012 so I never
    have to worry about wearing sunscreen in my house - that's for the


I'm sure you all know to wash every stitch of makeup off your face before heading to bed.  I use Olay Foaming Face Wash, which washes off even eye makeup.  My routine outlined below is an anti-aging one, and is quite easy and affordable.  After cleansing, I apply Gly Derm glycolic acid lotion to the face, neck, chest, arms, and hands a couple of times per week - in fact, I always apply all of my actives all over the face and upper body.  (Why should the face alone get all the benefits?)  The only moisturizers I use are either inexpensive non-synthetic Vitamin E oil (antioxidant d-Alpha Tocopheryl), or AEA-certified, fully-refined Emu Oil. (I don't recommend any particular brands, so long as the oils meet the aforementioned specifications.)  As for Retin-A Micro, I alternate this every 2-3 nights - again, only in the non-summer months, since I like to self-tan then!  Unfortunately, glycolic acids do not mix with self-tanners unless you are going for the vitiligo look.  I tried that once years ago; fortunately, it was during the weekend!


The important thing is that I do only what my skin can tolerate - and everyone is different.  If I feel that actives are beginning to be "too much" (always use your judgment!), I pull back for a day or two and use only sunscreen and the above oils at night.  I do not use eye creams; my daily sunscreen, Vitamin C serum, Retin-A, glycolic acid, and Vitamin E / emu oil are all applied to this area and do the heavy lifting.  Another chief reason I decline to use an eye cream is because a few hours after applying even the richest ones, the skin around the eye area feels as though I applied nothing.  Come to think of it, this is always the case for face creams, too - yep, even the $130/ounce ones.  So this is where my oils come in; 8 hours later when I wake up the next morning, they're still doing their work.  Let's just say I'm even further encouraged to sleep on my back so as to not ruin my pillow!


Note about prescription retinoids:  Tretinoin (Retin-A / Renova) is fabulous for stimulating collagen production in the underlying layer of the skin (dermis).  Sunlight deactivates retinoids, so make sure to apply these at night.  Visit your dermatologist to find the right percentage of Tretinoin is right for you - me, I can only tolerate .05%. 


Note about potent glycolic acids:  Using these alternately with prescription retinoids further enhances benefits by encouraging cell turnover and thoroughly exfoliating and smoothing the top layer of the skin (epidermis).  It's like having the Marines and Navy working for you at once.  No prescription needed, but a low-pH formula is necessary
to yield truly visible results.  NOTE:  A high percentage (i.e., 30%) does not necessarily indicate a low pH.  In fact, these types of glycolic acids tend to be buffered - i.e., weak.  Do your homework!


Note about SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic:  I cannot rave enough about this Vitamin C serum.  Not only does it provide an instant glow almost comparable to a light tan, it offers 8 times the protection your sunscreen provides alone.  Not only that, since it cannot be washed or rubbed off after application, one does not need to reapply daily.  Lovely!


"I can always tell which side a patient sleeps on the second they walk in the door."

You have no idea how many times I've heard and read about dermatologists saying this.  Yikes.  Well, think about it:  imagine making a grimace for 8 hours every night the way you do when you sleep scrunched on one side of your face.  So sleep on your back, ladies!


**FYI:  I don't have facials.  While I do have an aesthetician, this is only for waxing.  Since I am into advanced skin care, I'm no-nonsense and head straight for my derm if I ever have any concerns.**


For the skin, in addition to the other vitamins I take daily (detailed in my FAQ), I also include 1,000 mg of Vitamin C since this aids in collagen formation.  I feel it's best to take care of your skin externally and internally with antioxidants.  (With Vitamin E, avoid the synthetic dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate form, and instead look for its more-absorbent natural form, d-Alpha Tocopheryl.)


To find rock-bottom prices for skin care products or anything, check Froogle.com.  Also, before checking out at any online retailer, visit RetailMeNot.com!


Many sellers ask for an astounding $40-$60 for an $18.50 bottle of Anthélios sunscreen, using their own overseas shipping expenses as a bogus excuse for their price-gouging. As someone who has shipped heavy items to and from Europe and knows what standard foreign shipping actually costs, I find this practice shameful. La Roche-Posay is high-quality indeed, but it is in fact a drugstore sunscreen - so please, expect it to be priced as such.

* If you are interested, I have reviews available on MakeupAlley.  Just search for "SugarFreeSheila"!

As I mentioned previously, in addition to being relentless about wearing sunscreen, I also have the Llumar UV Shield, which provides 99.9% both UVA & UVB protection, on all my car and home windows.  This is a great idea for moms, students, or anyone who spends time in the sun driving.  Note:  Some states have mandates on how much area certain windows of a car may be tinted (e.g., in Texas, only the top 6" permitted for the front windshield).  However, a dermatologist can override this with a note so that your windows may have 100% coverage.  It's a chore, but worth it.

STYLE - Find Yours

While I was always into my skin, hair, and makeup before I lost the weight, I never really became truly interested in style and accessories until I met my goal weight. Until then, I was more of a Gap girl:  plain shirts, jeans, boots.  Really, I was just glad something fit me - and if it was reasonably priced, SOLD.


Well, I'm a little more choosy now!


There is just something about buying clothes in beautiful colors and fabrics that work for you that make you feel beautiful; for me, it serves as major motivation to stay on track.  After all, if you've spent time and money on those flatteringly snug jeans you plan on wearing tomorrow, the absolute last thing you'll want to do is spoil all of your diligent work by deviating from your low-carb plan the night before!


Eat For Tomorrow - Not Like There Is No Tomorrow

That is, when it comes to something you're putting into your body, consider how you'll feel about it when you awake the next morning.  An offbeat credo, but it does help.



I'm not into fashion in the least; I am, however, into style.  Thus I choose to splurge on pieces that last (e.g., silk designer scarves, shoes, classic handbags in neutral shades, etc.), and "go budget" on anything I know will be fleeting.  


A Word About Handbags

It seems about 90% of the handbags I ever see women carry are canvas-logo Coach.  I wish more women would explore bags without logos.  I came across this blog entry devoted to the issue, and while I do not share her childhood experience with logos, she articulates my lifelong aversion to them to a T.  My own two personal exceptions to this rule?  Fendi and especially Louis Vuitton - a leather classic that has been around since the mid-19th Century.



Straight-cut is the only cut of denim I personally wear, and hit the middle of my (always high!) heel.  This maximizes the length of the leg.  I personally stick with a lower waist.  Ultimately my aim is to work with my proportions rather than against them.



Diamond studs never go out of style; these are a staple for me, as I tend to wear very few jewelry and accessories.  Now necklaces, I'm into. Department stores have an excellent selection of fun fashion jewelry, so there is no use in spending a bundle.



I love aviators; they're all I ever wear nowadays.  I pick mine up for $5 at places like Charlotte Russe.


Quick tips regarding hot pieces to avoid looking like the dreaded fashion victim

It should go without saying to wear only what you love and suits you - not simply because it's "hot."  Who cares what your friend or your favorite celebrity's wearing?  Who's to say her tastes trump yours anyway?  Look inward and create your own personal, unique look.  Have fun with it.

  • Wear one trendy item/piece at a time - if at all.
  • You're an individual and so should be your own personal style.  By all means, take inspiration from what is out
    there and form your own style; but for heaven's sake, never mimic someone else.  A stranger should never be
    able to look at you and correctly guess your favorite celebrity.  On that note, if there is a ubiquitous "It" bag by a specific designer that everyone wants (or worse: already has) ... isn't that reason enough not to get it?
  • Ostentatiousness is the antithesis of elegance.  Tiny insignias are one thing - but it's best to do without the loud logos splashed at 360º.  You have nothing to prove - you're too cool to be a try-hard.  So wear your labels on the inside.
  • If you feel wearing something would embarrass you in 5-10 years if you were caught in a photograph, skip it.
  • Look ahead of the times - not behind!  In other words, never go by what you see the masses wearing at the mall. 
  • Classics, so long as they are current, are always a go - which marks the distinction between transient, copycat fashion and a timeless style that is all your own.
  • Conversely, when it comes to deciding what's acceptable to wear and what isn't, you make the call.
    For example, take the scrunchie.  I saw the same 2003 "Sex & the City" episode everyone else did making a big deal about how awful the scrunchie is.  While I haven't seen these little elasticized fabric rings worn out in public since I was a kid, the aftermath of women everywhere from TV to books to movies and the internet emphatically parroting this anti-scrunchie sentiment immediately following the airing of that "Sex & the City" episode practically had me wishing I liked scrunchies so I could run out and buy one to wear myself.  The moral:  when the chips are down, don't hang on anyone's word but your own with respect to what you wear.  DEFER TO YOU.  Besides, one cannot lead from the crowd.



General Clothing, Shopping, & Tips For Fit
Fit is everything.  Everything.  It can make an inexpensive outfit look incredible, and a pricey outfit look dimestore.  It may be wise to invest in a good seamstress to take things in and up if it is necessary.  I am always running dresses in for alterations.  It's a pain, but worth it.




If you are in a boutique and notice that the tops on the mannequins are severely pinned in the back, take that into account.  This is the sign of a poor cut and fit.  Vanity sizing is to blame for this - and it is only getting worse.  Don't think it's a real problem?  Consider the late Marilyn Monroe, whom women today are constantly trying to tout as having been overweight or "plus-sized." Not bronzed and buff like many of today's actresses?  Certainly.  But she was by no means a "big girl" and appeared to be in great shape to me.  (Here are outtakes of a campy 1962 shelved film shot just 3 months before her death.)  The fact is, according to her dressmaker and studio's claim for her widely-published measurements (35-22-35 & 37-23-36, respectively), the 5'5", 120-pound actress would have easily fit into a today's Gap size 0.  My own waist and hips are 23½ and 35½ inches respectively, and even I can fit into most size 0s.  


Did you know that a 24-inch waist used to be a size 6 in the early '90s?  Vanity sizing is getting that out of control.  Frankly, the size zero is overhyped - and since nobody ever accuses me of being too skinny, I'm tickled pink to help demystify it.


Quick Money-Saving Tip
If I spot something high-end, I take note of the designer, style name/model number, and purchase online later on - in new condition, of course.  Most importantly of all:  never, ever pay full retail for high-dollar items.  It's the 11th Commandment. ;)




Valletta, Malta

Fitness - Working Out to Attain YOUR Own Personal-Best Physique

My personal fitness regime is outlined in my FAQ, but I will list it here for convenience sake, and in greater detail.


For the record, I have never had a trainer.  No desire or need for one.  Additionally, while I recently got a gym membership because I couldn't turn down the price and head there every so often to switch things up, I mainly do home workouts via DVD/Blu-Ray and haven't belonged to a gym in years.  Home workouts save an inordinate amount of time, gas, and even sunscreen for me, ha!


Just a few great DVDs I have in rotation?

I do these full-body strength workouts 2-3 mornings a week.  On alternate days for my cardio, I do 4.3-4.4 mph walking on treadmill for 20 minutes.  Running isn't for me.  The dumbbells I use for strength workouts range from 5 lbs (e.g., triceps and delt work) to 15-lb dumbbells for things like squats, plies, and lunges.


My workout routine isn't difficult or time-consuming; I'm consistent above all else.  My fitness regime is only the icing on the physique cake, though - it's my Atkins menu that keeps my body fat low.  Don't expect your workout to give you what only your diet can.

Money & Time-Saving Tip For Home Workouts Check Netflix before purchasing new workout DVDs.  Also to prevent buyer's remorse after buying a workout that turns out to be not your style, do what I do.  Make it a 3-step process:

  1. Log onto CollageVideo to search for workouts.  Brief clips, info, and reviews are also available there.
  2. Head to YouTube to watch any additional clips of that same workout.
  3. Since paying full retail for it isn't happening, compare eBay and Amazon to see which offers the lowest price.

Moral of the story? You don't need a gym for fitness!


I must be cautious of how I train, as I'm petite and have a Mesomorphic somatotype.  The truth is, since every woman is built differently and may or may not be predisposed to building larger muscle mass than what she prefers.  Just as importantly, women have different goals, so you must cater your resistance training to your own specific body type - and sometimes this takes some trial and error.  Here is more information on the 3 different somatotypes.  See if you can spot your own ...



Looking to try something a bit different from the cardio and resistance training you've been doing?  I've never been much into Yoga, as I feel it is a bit too static for even my tastes.  But years ago, I gave Bikram Yoga a go for the first time and just fell in love with it.  Done in a studio heated to 110º+F, it is 90 minutes of glorious stretching via 26 challenging-but-doable hatha postures - or asanas.  Taking a Bikram Yoga class is something I wish I could do because I am so fond of it, but there aren't any studios in my area - so, I'm holding out.  For more information and for Bikram-certified studio locations in your city (a class merely dubbed "Hot Yoga" is not the same as Bikram), click here.



Want to be MOTIVATED to go to the gym?  Wear something sharp!  You'll find cute workout clothes at anywhere from TJ Maxx, Marshall's, to Target.  I buy Hanes XL Boy's ribbed tanks in bulk and wear these during my strength workouts.  As for footwear, I've loved Nike Shox since they debuted in 2001 - they offer a great mini-liftl! 


Because I am petite and want to lengthen the look of the leg as much as possible, my pants tend to be full-length - and I also match the shade of my sneakers to the color of my athletic pants.  (I'm only a fan of the cropped workout pant if they end no longer than right under the knee and are fitted, as opposed to baggy with an awkward capri-type length.)  Additionally, I make sure that the length of the pant extends to the heel of the shoe, and that the cut is straight as opposed to flared.  I also avoid any bulky fold-over business at the waist.  I fail to even see the point of it.


** My heartiest recommendation regarding maintaining motivation for hitting the gym and not slacking off, is to keep what you wear cute and body-conscious.  That way, the last thing you'll want to do is binge the night before if you've got to work it out and show it off the next morning - and conversely, knowing you always have something sharp, flattering, and functional to wear to the gym is guaranteed to keep you continuously pumped to go!



Another suggestion for combating boredom?  Your favorite music!  I'm a big fan of Pandora.


Cruise ship gym right after dinner. I'm a morning workout person; so if it's that late, I MAKE myself go!


Just moved into a new house. No beach vacations on the agenda, needed an updated swimsuit pic, so I grabbed my camera. Tip: If you want muscle definition to show for a photo, head to a room with sunlight coming in at an oblique angle.  There's a reason why fitness competitors favor this type of light for their selfies.


After lunch at Mooyah




Skincare and makeup are topics so closely related, it's almost difficult to separate them.  Therefore please consider this category a quasi-continuation of the above.


If you find yourself having common adult skin issues such as acne, Rosacea, brown spots, keratosis pilaris, eczema, scarring, etc., it's best make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist.  Tackling and eliminating (or at least managing) any skin issues will call for less makeup - which saves time, money, and looks better anyway.


 Now eye makeup, I love and wear regularly, as it is the facial feature I tend to play up most.  I often am e-mailed about what makeup I wear in my photos - and my routine usually goes like this.  Doesn't deviate much!

  • After applying sunscreen, I first curl my lashes with the Shu Uemura eyelash curler - available at
    Sephora or for cheaper on eBay.
  • Cover Girl Lash Blast in the lightest brown shade.
  • I don't tend to use blush, even though I look better with it.  The days I do wear it, I reach for L'Oreal True Match Super Blendable Blush in Baby Blossom
  • I do not use bronzers or do any contouring because I've never considered facial angularity or hollowed-out cheeks to be an asset, much less something to fake. 
  • When it comes to foundation, I've got alabaster skin - and unfortunately most light-enough foundation shades are pink-based since most Caucasian women with extremely fair complexions have pink undertones.  I don't!  So yellow-based ones are what I need, and these typically come in the darker shades.  Thus finding my match is a challenge.  Ones that have proven to be a good match are Revlon Colorstay in Buff (my favorite), as well as Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation in 1W1 Bone.  L'Oreal True Match Super Blendable Makeup in 1W is an excellent match for me color-wise; but alas, the finish is a bit shiny.  In the summer if I'm sunless tanning, Christian Dior Diorskin Airflash Spray Foundation is another favorite.  Before applying, I throw on a surgical cap so it won't get in my hair - and step into my shower stall so I won't mess up my bathroom tile. 


Testing out Revlon matte lipstick in Really Red.  Liked it!


NYX Pump It Up Lip Plumper is a far-and-away favorite right now.  They are just gorgeous and are a great dupe for MAC Lipglass Plushglass glosses.  I keep three shades in that little console between the two seats of my car at all times.


Latisse is an effective lash growth serum - but at $120 a bottle?  Pass.  What you're looking for is the active ingredient, which is 0.03% bimatoprost.  I use generic at $10 a bottle and apply to just the top lashes every other night.  For whatever it's worth, I've been using 0.03% bimatoprost for several years sans any side effects.  You can find pharmacies that sell generic Latisse; just search for "Lumigan" and "Careprost."

Hair Care


I do not consider myself much of a mane maven; however, I do take really good care of my own in addition to having a few inches trimmed every so often. Below are some tips that work for me.  Essentially, do as little to it as you possibly can - the less you stress out hair (think hair dryers, excessive drying use of hair mousse/gel/spray, hair coloring chemicals, perming/body-waving, too-often washings, constantly tugging at it, curling, straightening, etc.), the better.

  • If you must color your hair, try to space appointments as far as you can (which saves money and precious time anyway) and it is best to avoid bleach at all costs.  My own hair is naturally a Level 8 blonde, so I have a highlight touch-up every 2 months to get it the baby blonde shade it is now.  I've been using Aveda for hair color since 2004.  They're just the greatest; if you would like to try them out, visit their site to find a concept salon in your area.
  • Washing hair every second or third day.  This is where dry shampoos like Psssssst (been using this cheapie product since junior high - there's a lot you can do with it!) come in handy, as they give day-or-two-old hair lots of luscious volume and texture between washings.  Excessive washing can fade color and dry hair out - especially in the winter and if hot and/or hard water is used.
  • Get a chlorine filter for your shower head.  You can find these at home improvement stores and even Whole Foods.  You just have to change out the filters every 6 months.
  • AVOID SULFATES.  Think using a shampoo meant for color-treated hair is the best product for your hair?  Check the ingredients of your typical shampoo; chances are a sulfuric acid of some sort is among not only the ingredients, but typically the first one or two.  Eek!  Harsh sodium laureth sulfate shampoos are notorious contributors for drying out hair and fading color - particularly if you must shampoo every day.  A few sulfate-free product lines?  Aveda, Pureology, Mastey, Enjoy, L'Oreal's sulfate-free line.  They're everywhere:  at drugstores, at health food stores, at Sally Beauty.  Not just expensive salon ones!  You just have to look at labels
  • My sulfate exception?  Clairol Shimmer Lights shampoo.  I use it every 2-3 weeks or so.  It helps keep the yellow out of my platinum blonde.
  • One thing I like to do is use weekly protein packs on my hair - you know, the ones you can pick up at the beauty supply store for just a couple of dollars?  I shampoo, apply a protein treatment throughout my hair, and leave it on while I shave.  I always have a really amazing hair day when I use these, and highly recommend them.

My hair's not that long, but I love a BIG fat bun. Those donut bun formers you find at drugstores are a Godsend!



Ditto for a big fat ponytail. There's a ponytail insert in there - you just can't see it!

Just picked up one of these Boho Braids at Sally. If you're like me & only wash your hair 2-3x/week & your roots are coming in, little tricks like this help to camouflage things in the interim!

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Nails: Be Neat & Be Done With Them

My tips for this category are quick, brief, and to the point - because I feel that nails should be the most no-nonsense aspect of a woman's physical appearance. It is so easy to make them look good, because the upkeep takes such little effort.


Yes, I'm talking about natural nails.  Not high-maintenance, pricey gels, and not acrylics, which I no longer do.  In fact, since high school, I had acrylics on my nails.  As the years passed, they began to exasperate me more and more, because after only a few days of having them done, the tips would invariably begin to lift, leaving me with the inability to simply run my fingers through my hair without being careful of them "catching." Plus, I discovered - and finally accepted - that acrylics only really looked fresh on me for the first 72 hours after having them done.  I'd forgotten the next-to-zero maintenance of natural nails - not to mention the lack of expense and especially the newfound convenience. 


As far as shape goes, I have found that you cannot go wrong when you simply file nails to mirror the shape of the cuticle.  The length is up to you; however, I've personally always preferred short, round nails - not square and definitely not oval. Ultra-long nails, blue/purple/green/yellow/orange-polished nails, French manicures or pedicures, or nails bearing designs or art, are looks that are not for me.  I do love using the Sally Hansen 2-In-1 Nail White Pencil.  It works so well - add a quick topcoat and it looks just like the American Manicures I used to get with acrylics.   


Shimmer-free, sheer Sally Hansen polishes work for my at-home manicures.  I also love a bright hue that pops - that's when I'll head to the salon for manicures because I've got no finesse for intricate application!  The bright mani shade of choice depends on my mood, and I have been loving OPI Big Apple Red for years.  Just have fun and experiment!


Money-Saving Tip:  To try out new colors, the tiny off-brand shades at the drugstore are a great idea.  Also, don't forget eBay as a cheap option to get OPI polishes. 


Take care of your feet!

About oh, once or twice a month between pedicures, I soak my feet in straight white distilled vinegar for 30 minutes.  Just sit there at my foot bath my husband bought me years ago and read a book or answer e-mails on my laptop.  Then I follow up with a loofah.  It's a great exfoliant!  I white vinegar and note apple cider because the former is more acidic (seriously, I got out my pH strips and tested both) - i.e., gets the job done.  I don't see any point in diluting the vinegar either.  Why?  Because even straight white vinegar bears a less acidic pH than the aforementioned Gly Derm alpha-hydroxy acid lotion I use on my face.  So yeah; my feet can hack the straight vinegar.  Also!  Vinegar soaks are good if your man has athlete's foot.


Teeth-Whitening at the Dentist is for the Birds

Not only is teeth-whitening a $1.6 billion dollar market, it is continuing to grow annually - and it is estimated that 7 out of 10 Americans whiten their teeth.  In fact, teeth whitening tops the list of most-requested procedures performed at the dentist office.  With the exception of the long-discontinued Natural White's Rapid White system, I am not particularly interested in (or impressed by, for that matter) over-the counter/drugstore tooth-whitening methods out there - you know, the kind you're obligated to do weekly ... or worse, daily?  So as with skincare, I stick with advanced strengths for the ultimate result.  This ensures that I only have to whiten my teeth for a total of one hour at a time, 2-3 times per year. 


I've been using Nite White for 10 years now, and this one is among the brands of teeth-whitening systems you'll see offered at dentist's offices.  That's all well and good; but did you know you can order this and other teeth-whitening systems on eBay?  Yeah!  The whole process of making an appointment, fitting for the custom trays, and purchasing the system itself for full retail can be avoided and instead done via mail order ... because if you know me, you know that I do everything necessary but nothing that isn't.  Not only that, I won't pay full price.


Thankfully, on eBay, you can find dental technicians who provide custom-fittings by mail (it sounded crazy to me at first, too) as well as refills for a mere fraction of MSRP.  At the time I began using Nite White back in '03, the system and syringes cost $90.  Now?  I see the entire custom experience and syringes going for very little.  It's worth a search!  For reference, I use 22% Nite White for one hour every 4-6 months to maintain.  I only have to purchase refills about once a year, from a reputable eBay seller for around $20 - shipping included.  I'm sure laser teeth whitening is fabulous and effective and all; but what incentive would anyone have to book an appointment and spend hundreds when they can achieve and maintain pearly whites right at home?


It's so easy to feel gorgeous for cheap ... you just have to know what's good and where to go to get it.


Barcelona, Spain



There is nothing more beautiful than snow.  I go nuts like a 3 year-old when it hits Dallas.  
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