A Little Help to Keep Me Healthy

summer As seen on Nolavie….

This week, while I was searching for inspiration to write my column, I found it in the most unexpected way. While I had originally intended to write about one of my many adventures at the doctor and the “red carpet moment” I recently had there, my writing path took a turn just as I was drumming up the introduction. I’ll save that other story for another day. Instead, I’ll tell you about how I was inspired to write by a simple and kind gesture.

Have you ever gotten home from work and felt so exhausted that you couldn’t imagine doing anything other than sprawling across the couch? No cooking dinner, no exercising, no talking. Just laying.

This week, I had one of those days. And let’s be honest here. I have them often. I made it home from work at about 7 p.m. and quickly scarfed down dinner (that was thankfully prepared by my mom) so that I could set out to do what I needed to do. I just needed to sit down for a few minutes. Well, you know how that goes.

I needed to go for my evening run and I needed to write this column. And truthfully, I didn’t feel like doing either. (I’m sure my editors will love that.) Half of my brain was trying to get my body to respond and get up, while the other half was trying to flesh out my story idea. But it wasn’t long before my body sunk sideways across the couch in my parents’ living room. “Help,” I mumbled, partially to myself, halfway hoping I’d be hit with a stroke of instant energy by some invincible energy gods. I sunk my head face down in defeat.

I didn’t know how I was going to pull it off, my body was feeling the impact of several unrestful nights of sleep.

 

Unexpectedly, I peered up, and saw my brother standing in front of me. He reached out his hand, and said, “Come on, the hardest part is getting up.” He gently pulled me up to my feet. It wasn’t the playful demeanor you would expect from an older brother. It was simple, kind gesture, but it was beautiful and filled me with so much gratitude that I felt compelled to write about it. Because sometimes we can overlook the power of a kind and simple gesture. And it was just what I needed — someone to give me a hand, and, quite literally, help lift me up.

So, I mustered all my strength, laced up my shoes and hit the ground running. Then, I sat down to write.

I won’t pretend that staying committed to my health is easy. In fact, it’s often difficult. It takes a lot of work and discipline. And although I am fiercely passionate about it, I don’t always love it. I want to live wrecklessly. Sometimes I want to quit altogether. Other times I feel overwhelmed by the responsibility that comes with managing a chronic illness. It is exhausting to have to be constantly cautious with my body, being vigilant about what I eat, how much sleep I get, managing my stress — which are all factors that directly impact my health. Sometimes, I just want to say “screw it,” drink 3, 4, 5 cocktails, sit on the couch with a big bag of Zapp’s chips and a 16oz can of Coke and feel guilty about none of it — there, I said it!

But you know what, that’s okay. As long as I get back on track.  I can’t always do it on my own. Sometimes I need, we all need, that helping hand to reach down and pull us up.

As Summer winds down, fall rolls in and winter slowly unfolds (New Orleans style, of course, with temperatures plummeting to 50 degrees), it gets so much harder to stay active and stick to healthy habits. So, maybe you’ve been thinking about taking a class, or joining a running group or a gym. Perhaps you’ve thought about starting a schedule to walk around your neighborhood or the park. Maybe you plan to cut back on fried foods. Drink more water. Get to sleep earlier. Try yoga. Take the stairs. Whatever it may be, you don’t have to do it on your own. I’m reaching out my hand to pull you up.

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What’s The Big Idea?

Hello everybody!

I hope you had a wonderful weekend! Is the summer really over?! Say it ain’t so! (Even though it doesn’t feel like it here in New Orleans) I always get a certain sadness each year when the summer comes to an end, but then September rolls around, and I get excited for the fall…my second favorite season!

I know I’ve been a little quiet on the blog as of late. Please pardon my absence. I promise I haven’t been lounging at the pool or being a beach bum. I wish! I’ve been working away like a busy bee over here.

I got a big girl job…yay! Now my siblings can stop calling me the “busiest unemployed girl they know.”

I am very excited to share with you that I joined The Idea Village as an in-house reporter, writing and blogging about entrepreneurship in New Orleans.

The Idea Village is a stellar non-profit whose mission is to support entrepreneurs and startups in New Orleans. I like to say it’s a small team doing BIG work. Why am I so excited to join The Idea Village? Because this team is dedicated to helping people in New Orleans fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams…and I am ALL about chasing dreams and pursuing passions. What better place to do that than in my home town?

I am especially excited as I feel that I have a unique opportunity to be a part of something very special here, and use my experience and passion for writing to make an impact.

Now for a little fun..

We kicked off the entrepreneur season with Entrepalooza. And afterwards, it was time for our team photo. You know how hard it is to round people up for a group picture!

Entrepalooza group 2

Wait a minute…

Entrepalooza group 1

Almost…

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Closer…

Entrepalooza group 3

Entrepalooza Group 5

There it is!

Entrepalooza me & team

And then of course, I insisted that we have an impromptu photo shoot.

These are the Awesome gals I work with on my team! Cameron is a marketing genius, and Rhea, is a social media maven.

Entrepalooza Me, Cameron, & Rhea

And that’s our fearless leader, Tim, floating away with one of his crazy ideas. We loove crazy ideas, in case you couldn’t tell :)

Entrepalooza Tim

It’s such an exciting time to be in the city and watch all of the innovation happen here.

I’ll still be blogging and keeping you up to date on healthy living in NOLA too! Now we just have to make sure we don’t kick those #healthysummer habits to the curb for fall!

Do you have a crazy idea? I’d love to hear all about it!

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My Five Favorite Healthy & Fast Food Spots in New Orleans

Hi everybody! If you’re looking for some good, healthy eats this weekend, check out my five favorite “fast-food” healthy spots on Nolavie.

Have a wonderful weekend! xo

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West Elm New Orleans & Why We Love Local

Hello everybody! I hope your week is off to a great start! Can I tell you what I’m sooo excited about? We just got a brand new West Elm in New Orleans! I first discovered West Elm when I lived in Atlanta. I spent a lot of time roaming around there and at the mall before I made friends. That’s not weird, right?!

Lovely Juley of the fab Upperlyne invited me to the grand opening, and it was a big, fun party! She collaborated with West Elm to do a makeover of her home office, which I can’t wait to see!

West Elm DJ

Lovely Juley of the fab Upperlyne invited me to the grand opening, and it was a big, fun party! She collaborated with West Elm to do a makeover of her home office, which I can’t wait to see!

West Elm Local sign

West Elm Lion Heart Prints

West Elm drinks

I really love this concept that West Elm has embraced because I think both the company and the local artists both benefit by giving local artists the opportunity to display their work inside of a nationally recognized brand. Brilliant marketing!

West Elm Meet the Makers

West Elm crowd

West Elm Matter

West Elm goods

West elm lights

West Elm Parishes

The new store is so cozy and it’s jam packed with so many goodies. I spent most of the night admiring all of the gems and dreaming up my future home.

Shout out to West Elm for supporting the locals! I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship J

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Lululemon Design Meeting in New Orleans

Hello everyone, I hope your week is going great!

I am catching up on blog posts this week to tell you about some of the neat events that I had a chance to attend over the past few weeks.

First up, Lululemon invited me to a design meeting a couple of weeks ago with, Annika, one of their designers who is based in their headquarters in Vancouver. She was in town to find out how we keep cool while we stay fit during the summer heat in New Orleans. How do we do that?!

The meeting started with a ridiculously good meal catered by Baru. My mouth is still watering for the ceviche.

We chatted and got to know one another while we chowed down.

And we might have popped a little bit of bubbly in the store :)

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We talked about our experiences with health and shared some of our favorite fitness products.

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It kind of felt like a girls night in that just happened to be at Lululemon. It was so cool to meet an awesome bunch of ladies who are all passionate about healthy living.

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I really dig the way Lululemon is out engaging with their community and clients. I can’t wait to see what they take away from the meeting, and what they come up with next!

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Iconic: Healthy & Homegrown

I’ve been on a mission this past year to gain weight, and find healthy ways to do it. I’ve been experimenting with different protein sources, and after a year, I finally found one that I love. Yay! And the best part is, I found it right here at home!

Iconic, a healthy lifestyle beverage, was created in New Orleans with the help of Eat Fit NOLA’s Registered Dietician, Molly Kimball, who I interviewed a while back. She rocks!

Here’s why I love Iconic:

  • all natural
  • lactose free
  • soy free
  • source of Vitamin B12
  • contains no artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors

I’ve had trouble finding a protein drink that works for me, because the medicine that I take to manage my illness makes me lactose intolerant, and it also prevents my body from absorbing many of the vitamins and nutrients we get from food, including B12. So you can see why I’m so excited about Iconic!

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Iconic edited

I mixed my chocolate truffle in the blender with bananas and ice, and it was a real treat! I’ve also heard that it’s really yummy with iced coffee. Maybe I’ll try that next since iced coffee is my current obsession.

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Yesterday, I was running around all day, and I didn’t have time to pack my lunch, so I grabbed an Iconic on my way out of the door, and it was the perfect pre-workout snack. And I just love it, because I know that every time I have one, I’m supporting a local business. And you know we love our locals :)

Iconic in my bag

Have you tried any protein drinks that you love? If so, please let me know! I’m always looking for new ones to try.

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Au Natural Tanning Lotion

I have the fairest skin in my family. When I was younger, my siblings told me that my mom had an affair with the milkman, and I was their lovechild. I believed them. I once demanded to see a copy of my birth certificate. True story.

My sisters, with their olive complexions, still tease me about my pale skin. Not fair!

So when a friend told me about Eco Tan, a natural tanning lotion, I said, Oh Yeaah!

While I refuse to sit under a tanning bed to get a summer glow, I will gladly experiment with some natural beauty products.

First, I did my research, as always.

I like to read the back story on how products and businesses are conceived and brought to life. The creator of Eco Tan, Sonya Driver, a native Aussie, was searching for a healthier way to tan after her sister was diagnosed with melanoma. She tried self-tanners, but she wanted something that was natural and harmless to her body. So, she created her own.

 

Eco Tan 3

I tried the Invisible tan, and applied it twice before I went to bed, because you have to leave it in for eight hours. It doesn’t stain your sheets, so no need to worry about that. But you have to be sure to spread it evenly all over your body, otherwise you’ll end up with streaks.

Eco Tan 4

I also used the Extreme Exfoliant Glove which I love! I have been wanting to try a full-body exfoliator, so this was perfect. It’s best to exfoliate before and after using the moisturizer.

Eco Tan 6

The ingredients in Eco Tan:

• Chamomile Flower Extract
• Avocado Oil
• Honeysuckle Flower Extract
• Rose Geranium Oil
• Grapeskin Extract
• Cacao
• Aloe Vera
• Glycerin
• Lecith

Eco Tan 7

It doesn’t contain any synthetics or GMO’s, and the color is derived from cacao. I also love that it says, “no hidden nasties” That means no bad stuff.

Eco Tan 8

I haven’t been able to bathe in the sun as much as I would like to so far this summer, so, I am adding this to my list of summer favorites! Take that, sistas!

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Hello from New York City!

New York skyline

Hello everybody!

Today, I am writing to you from New York City, at a lovely little coffee shop near my sister’s apartment called the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

The weather outside is sunny, cool, and breezy…so different from the New Orleans summer!

I am in a dizzy whirl of catching up with family and friends, and trying to squeeze more than 24 hours out of the day here. It’s never enough time in this city!

But in the meantime, I wanted to send you a few photos from my first days here.

This is me trying to hail a cab at 3:00 am in SoHo. Not really though, I’m posing for the camera while I make my sister’s friend be my impromptu photographer :) Thanks Ralph!

NY hailing cab

Enjoying a birthday celebration in Brooklyn..my fav part of the city!

NY BK hotel

Taking a beautiful ralk (run/walk) on the East River. I just made that up.

NY East River run

Smiling ear to ear after an amazing yoga class with Tara Stiles at Strala Yoga.

NY Strala Yoga

Learning that Lola is NOT a city dog. This girl misses the burbs.

NY Lola laying down

But she is finally warming up to it a little bit :)

NY Lola

I’ll post more photos soon, and I have to tell you about what I have coming up that I’m so excited about, some really neat products that I tried, and some super cool events that I attended last week. I can’t wait to share it all with you!

I hope you’re having a fabulous summer, where ever you. xo

The beautiful skyline photo above was taken by Caroline Crigger.

Love,

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My Letter to LeBron James

Summer in The City

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Dear Lebron,

You did it. You won me over. And you didn’t do it with your phenomenal basketball skills. You did it with your writing; just the way to this journalist’s heart. I have to admit that I was not a fan of yours, even long before you made “the Decision”. I was a Chris Paul for many years, before he left New Orleans. But that’s another story. I often rolled my eyes at the all the fanfare around the “Big 3”; even though the sound of Dwayne Wade’s voice makes me smile like a giddy schoolgirl. To be perfectly honest, I was hoping the Spurs would take the championship home this year. However, I have had a big change of heart, after reading your letter on Coming Home (as told to Lee Jenkins).

Your letter on Coming Home deeply resonated with me, and you have gained my utmost respect, not for your incredible talent on the court, but for your character off of it. Your story inspired me, uplifted me, reassured me.

I know that the NBA was your lifelong dream, like so many young men with a love for the game. You dreamed of being there your whole life. You worked hard to get there. And when you got there, you wanted to win titles. I was a journalist on the brink of an exciting career with CNN, when I fell terribly ill two years ago and was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease. Rare–I’m talking House type stuff here. Working at CNN was like making it to the league. It was my NBA, and writing great stories was like winning championship titles.

I know how hard it must have been for you to leave Cleveland, but you had to leave home to grow and to learn. It’s hard to leave the place that makes you who you are, but deep down you know that you have to . When I left New Orleans, I set out to tell great stories. It was hard for me to leave all the people and things that shaped who I was too. Just as Cleveland raised you, New Orleans made me who I am. It gave me the ability to appreciate culture and diversity, and to relate to different people from all types of journeys…something that has served me well as a journalist.

I witnessed stories of loss, tragedy and triumph. I learned how to tell great stories at CNN. I watched history unfold right before my eyes. Miami was to you, what CNN was to me. I gained my independence, my grit, and my character there. Just as you’ll always see Miami as your second home, I will always consider Atlanta as my second home.

When I got sick, I imagined that’s how an athlete who’s made it to the league, only to be injured soon after must feel. I made a heart-breaking decision. I left CNN and returned home to New Orleans.

Like you, I always believed that I would return home. But I didn’t imagine it would be this soon. I could have returned to CNN, just as you could have stayed in Miami.

But I also felt I had a greater calling here at home. I knew I’d had a unique experience, and that my life was being guided by divine design. I felt that I could use my experience and passion here in New Orleans and have a far greater impact. I felt I could better serve here. I believe that sometimes we are called to certain places or experiences at certain times in our lives for a purpose. We can’t always explain it. Sometimes, we just feel it in our core, and we know it’s right. I think you share in that understanding with me.

I am writing this letter to say that I commend for you making what I know was a difficult decision. My city, like yours, has faced so much adversity. And it needs people who are willing to rise up to the challenge and do the tough jobs. It needs people who deeply care about what the future looks like here. Our kids here need to be lead, inspired, and we have a responsibility to use our God-given talents to go serve others. So, it’s time for you and I to get to work. We’re at home, right where we belong.

It’s been said that in Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. You work for what you have.

In New Orleans, when life calls us to a challenge, we fight back boldly.

I hope that you’ll enjoy good health, (no injuries), much success, and long-lasting happiness at home.

I’ll be cheering for you here in New Orleans. I might even wear that number 23.

Love,

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A Dream Dinner: The Yellow Table

You know those picturesque dinners that you see in magazines where the ambiance is magical, the food looks so delightful, and the guests are all so contented?

the yellow table dinner

I went to a real dream dinner last month hosted by Anna Watson Carl, the brilliant mind behind The Yellow Table. Anna is driving across county and hosting dinners for her soon to be self-published book, The Yellow Table Cookbook. How neat is that?

the yellow table watermelon

the yellow table french quarter

As a trained chef, Anna has always dreamed of writing a cookbook, so she decided to do it without the backing of a big publisher. There are countless cookbooks out there these days, but there’s something special about Anna’s. What I love about her work is that it is centered by her belief in the community of gathering around the table at home for dinner. I was so inspired by Anna’s story. In her own words, “You can make a wish, or you can make it happen.”

the yellow table salad and bread

Anna prepared a wonderful meal for us, and Joy Wilson of Joy the Baker, who is a brand new to the city, was gracious enough to host us in her lovely French quarter home. And treat us to the delicious dessert below. I had a chance to meet Juley Le of the fabulous Upperlyne, artist Rebecca Rebouche, Hannah McSwain who took these beautiful photos, and Elise, who’s been Anna’s road warrior on their cookbook road trip!

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It was truly a magical night. I was both uplifted and inspired by the story of every woman there, each one who went against the grain, took a chance and chased a dream, or pursued a passion. For the first time since I began this journey back home, I felt like I had finally found a place where I belonged. It felt like a gathering of old friends, rather than perfect strangers. I am so grateful to have met and shared the company of these lovely ladies. And it couldn’t have come at a better time, as I had been feeling weary about many things lately. A little bit of divine guidance, if you will.

the yellow table strawberry crostata

Yesterday, Anna reached her goal on Kickstarter to self-publish her book. Yay! And while I am so happy and excited for her, I am not one bit surprised. When she shared her story with us, I had no doubt that she would reach her goal, because her passion and sincerity beamed. You can read about her journey and rally behind The YellowTable Cookbook too.

Here’s to all the women brave enough to answer when their hearts’ call!

the yellow table group toast

Photos by Hannah Swain / Dinner c/o Anna, Joy & Elise / Menus by Rebecca Rebouche

Love,

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