Sweet feet

Take care of your feetDarlings let’s face it, most women want sweet feet. But according to the Sweet Feet Analysis from Kelton Research, too many women have beat-up feet. Eighty-four percent of the women surveyed were sometimes ashamed of their feet and 57 percent are often embarrassed by the state of their toes. This report, which is based on a survey from the American Podiatric Association, unleashed a storm of articles in the popular press by women confessing they did not love their feet.  I was shocked.

Can feet really cause so much angst?  I remember that my mother and aunts had a trying time with their feet. They suffered painful cracked heels and weird calluses.  They would swap nasty-smelling home remedies.  This was long before nail shops dotted the landscape of every small town in North America.
As I read the study, it became apparent why women have such terrible podiatric problems. It stated that 92 percent of women use lotion only once a month; just a third of the women surveyed moisturize their feet eight times or more a month. The mind boggles.  I know women lead busy lives, but a daily application of cream to ensure soft feet seems minimal.  Only 42 percent of women surveyed indulge in treatments that involve soaking or exfoliating.
Before you assume that I think that women have unlimited time to pamper themselves, remember that a shower or bath counts as soaking time.  It is also the ideal time to apply one of the excellent exfoliators that are available today from companies such as Olay. The outlay of time and money are minimal, if you keep your supplies handy. 
According to dermatologist and Olay consultant Dr. Kucy Pon, “dry skin on the feet is a very common problem, and if the condition is severe, it can lead to cracks and fissures in the skin.”  Dr. Pon says that’s not only be painful, it leads to infections, because barrier functions in the skin become compromised when the skin is broken. “Therefore,” she says, “it is important to keep the skin on your feet soft, smooth and supple with regular use of moisturizers and gentle exfoliation”.
While some women lament short toes or bunions, it seems that cracked, dry heels plague most women at one time or another.  Dr. Pon says it happens for many reasons, but it can be treated.  “Dry, cracked skin on the heels and feet is due to excessively dry skin. People who stand or walk for prolonged periods put increased pressure on their feet, increasing the likelihood of cracking because of mechanical rubbing, friction, and pressure.
“Also, there may be certain skin conditions that lead to dry skin, such as eczema and psoriasis, and even medical conditions like diabetes and hypothyroidism, which can be associated with dry heels, skin cracks, and fissures”.
Dr. Pon recommends moisturizing at least two to three times a day to treat and prevent dry skin on heels in particular. She also says a product like Olay Body Thermal Pedicure contains shea butter and other moisturizing ingredients that hydrate the skin, as well as micro-crystals to smooth away dead skin cells and prevent the build-up that leads to dry, cracked skin.
It isn’t difficult to care for your feet; instructions on how to do a professional pedicure can be found on YouTube. You can get a kind of “cheese grater” to rub off any hardened calluses.  One popular example is the PedEgg. These devices work wonders on the most callused heels.  You can get one at most drugstores for about $10.
Clarins Foot Beauty Treatment www.clarins.com is a luxurious favorite of mine. It’s a botanical-packed moisturizer that’s perfect for mornings as it not greasy. For super-dry feet, I swear by Palmers Cocoa Butter Formula with Vitamin E www.etbrowne.com.  It is pure grease and perfect for treating dry heels at night. Theraplex Foot Cream with salicylic acid is a great exfoliate too www.theraplex.com. These treatments take just minutes to apply, and a jar of Palmers Coca Butter Formula can cost as little as $5.
Another tip is to learn to push back cuticles instead of cutting them. It’s easier and healthier.
Another thing you should do is file your nails to a moderate length. If they’re too short, toes look stubby; leave them too long and you’ll look weird.  If they are broken or discoloured, consult your doctor; the state of your nails may indicate health problems.  If yellowing has occurred from nail polish, learn to use a good base coat. Discoloration can be bleached with a weak solution of hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice on cotton balls
Darlings, this may sound like a lot for a busy woman to do, but it can all be done in about 10 minutes. If you want polish, add another 10 or 15 minutes application time, depending on your dexterity. Clean, buffed nails on a well-creamed foot will look quite sexy and cute. So leave the polish to the pros if you are rushed or just ham-handed.  Or get a bottle OPI or Essie nail polish in sheer buff or pink.  The application of these sheer glosses can be less precise. Though I admit, I prefer a sexy red or coral on my toes.
Salon pedicures are a treat, but your feet will never look fabulous if you don’t take time to exfoliate and moisturize between visits. Use a scrub once or twice a week and cream daily!
If you get blisters you probably wear shoes that don’t fit well. We have all done it. If you are prone to blisters, invest in Band-Aid Activ-Flex Blister Block.  These are specialized little cushions made to “seal and heal” a blister. Sufferers swear the work better than regular band-aids. Infections on your feet can be dangerous.
Take time to treat your feet:
·        Use a mineral or botanical foot soak for achy or callused feet. Queen Helene (one my favourite budget-friendly beauty companies) makes Foot Therapy Natural Mineral Foot Bath. Under $10.from
·        Use a foot scrub regularly.
·        Moisturize daily with a good rich, even greasy, cream!
·        Use a good hydrating masque on your feet, or slather feet with plain yogurt for 10 minutes.
·        Try Pretty Hands and Feet. It is a unique combination of paraffin, scrubbing grains, and exfoliating acids that many swear by. It is also under $10.
·        Invest in a nail buffer if you do not want to polish your own toe nails. http://www.folica.com/MAVALA_Nail_Buf_d600.html
·        Buy some Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover and use it once a week!
·        Treat yourself to some Earth Therapeutics Aloe Socks if your feet are really dry and you have no patience for treatments. They are soft socks infused with natural aloe vera.  I do not wear them, but legions of our testers adore them! Earth Therapeutics has tons of delicious foot items from tools to treats. http://www.earththerapeutics.net
Indulge in luxe spa products to pamper your feet·        Indulge in heavenly treats such as Elemis Exotic Cream Moisturizing Mask is a creamy mask that contains a blend of exotic botanicals and natural ingredients including: mimosa absolute, amino acid-rich honey, immune-boosting sea rocket, mallow,echinacea, mandarin and bergamot. Or try Elemis Exotic Lime & Ginger Salt Glow a unique sea salt scrub with a blend of oils including camellia. Ginger stimulates the metabolism and tones the body. Lime peel cleanses and purifies the skin. Sea salt exfoliates, helping the skin regain softness. Both of these products smell divine –they give you a lift.  www.timetospa.com
I adore a professional pedicure. When I developed my first heel crack at the ripe old age of 23, I ran to my dermatologist in a panic.  I had no intention of joining the family sisterhood of bad feet!  She sent me to podiatrist for my first medical pedicure.  Heaven!  I have been hooked on good foot care and baby-soft feet my whole life.
Over the years have I been mani-pedied by the best from Boston to Bangkok – and it has been divine.  But I am glad I can do it all myself.  I never have to worry that my polish is chipped or my heels are ragged, and I have no time to get to a salon.
As Noella Gabriel of Elemis Luxury Spa Products says, “summer is a time when we wear toe-revealing sandals and we expect feet to look good after being wrapped up all winter!  There is no point having the latest Jimmy Choo sandals if you’re feet don’t have the ‘cared-for’ look”. This is even more important now that we are wearing bare shoes all year long. I still have my weekly nail appointment, but I love being able to do my feet at leisure and read magazines as my toes dry. I adore not having to rush out with still with nail lacquer that smears under boots or pumps –no matter now much spray or oil they use. My polish is always pristine and smudge-less. I relish my ritual, lotions, potions, scrubs, and lacquers. And there is not easier way to look like a duchess — or a CEO — than to have perfectly-groomed hands and feet all the time.
 However you go about it, just be sure you have sweet feet.

Secrets of shaping-up from a top trainer

Jennifer CassettyDo you have a reunion, wedding, or other special occasion coming up?  Maybe you just want to look and feel fabulous. Then do not miss a word of our Q&A interview with top celebrity trainer and coach Jennifer Cassetty, as she shares in-depth tips for shaping-up.  She has helped celebrities shape-up after childbirth and for special projects. Enjoy her no-nonsense approach and favourite exercises. http://www.jennifercassetty.com/
DD: Do you have any tips to motivate women who have a hard time sticking to a
fitness program?
JC: It’s so much easier and less stressful to live a consistent lifestyle than the hard and fast "diet" approach. You have to be realistic with your goals and not expect immediate results. That will definitely spell doom. Try making subtle changes toward a healthier lifestyle slowly. For instance, incorporate more healthful snacks in-between meals or walk an extra 20 minutes once week. The progression approach will ease you into a more consistent workout routine and slowly build your endurance so you can get into the hardcore workouts!
DD: Why do you suggest doing strength training before cardio?
JC: Science proves it. You have more energy to lift if it’s done beforehand, plus it raises your heart rate to increase metabolism and is easier to maintain the "fat burning" heart rate.
A strength training tip I recommend is to start with your large muscle groups before the smaller ones, like abs, squats, pull-ups and push-ups. Then divide up into quads, hamstrings, shoulders, biceps and triceps. Here is a sample work out for the large muscle group:
Ab-Mission: Lie flat on your back, hands under your butt, then lift your feet about 12 inches off the ground, spread your legs, then bring back down together. This works your lower abs, thighs and increases flexibility.
To work smaller muscle groups: Hip Lifts: With a small medicine ball between knees, slowly lift your hips while your feet stay flat on ground.  Your hips should slowly rise off the ground. This works your hamstring, butt, lower back — and squeezing the ball can make certain areas of the female body tighter. So it will be like the first time you see your lover after exercising.

DD: Is it possible to shape up in four weeks and what would it take?  
JC: Totally depends on what kind of shape you’re in. It’s easier to make small changes if you have a healthy fitness base already than to drop 20 pounds in two weeks.  Can we take you from fit and healthy to rocking that cute dress? Yes.  If you desire to lose 25-30 pounds, I can get five off of you happily and still see changes. 
For 4 weeks; I would have you do 3 days of strength training with 5-6 exercises per muscle group. (Day 1 lower body/core; Day 2 Chest/back and abs; Day 3 shoulders, biceps and triceps) 5 days minimum of 30-40 minutes. Some exercises include: squats, lunges, and walk-out push-ups. Later, I would include some straight aerobic training with intervals like walking for a few minutes, then sprinting, and then back to walking for about 20 minutes.
DD: Can you reshape you body with exercise?
JC: Absolutely. You can tone arms, build a butt, lean out your legs, flatten your abs, etc.  Obviously, you have to include a nutritious and healthful diet.  That will help you re-shape your body.  Some of my favorite exercises to get your body in shape are:
Cross Crunches: Lying face-up, with one leg crossed on your knee, then crunch up slowly.  Hold this position for a few seconds then return to the start position.  It’s simple and really works your lower abs.
Planks (quad hip work): Plank exercises are some of the best moves to strengthen your core, which comprises not only your abdominal muscles, but also the muscles of the back, hips, and pelvic floor.  You start by lying face down on a mat.  Place your forearms on the mat with your shoulders aligned directly over your elbows. Clasp your hands in front of you. Extend your legs behind you and rest on your toes, as if you are going to do a pushup.  Your hips should not be lifted to the ceiling, nor should your back be arched.  You should look to attain a straight line between your shoulders and toes.  You should be tightening your abdominal muscles to help you hold the position correctly — and hold it as long as you can. Return to your start position and alternate between sides.  Do this for 25 reps.
DD: Do you have any tips for women who would like to lose a quick 5-10 pounds or jumpstart a diet?
JC: Clean it up. Clearly, no sugars, less alcohol, soda, and, souped-up coffees. Learn to be more creative with seasonings than sauces and salts.  Eat fruit before
noon — and no sugar-loaded desserts — to get some energy in your body.  Lunges and crunches always shape and tone your lower body.  You can do the cross crunch mentioned earlier to help tone your body. For lunges, step out to the side, go down as far as you can go, then return to the start position. This increases blood flow and flexibility.
DD: How many days a week and for how long do you need to exercise for fitness, and how long for weight loss?
JC: You make a plan for exercise in what your schedule allows. If it’s important and you "don’t have time", make it happen anyway.  I train people who travel four days a week, so they see me every weekend, and I help them be creative with or without a gym/kitchen while on the road.  For the average young professional, 4-5 days per week.  Aim for two to three sets of weights and cardio every time you set foot in the gym. It will help with stress and keep you focused.  Weight loss should happen at a steady pace of 2-2.5 pounds per week for a healthy result.  Having a personal trainer is also good because we provide motivation, ensure you’re doing the exercises properly, and switch routines for your body so you to feel a change.
DD: Can you suggest any super-effective exercises that are easy to do at home, for hard to tame areas such as the upper arms and abdomen?
Yes.  Stop eating cheese.  You can get calcium other ways, but cheese is high in fat and sodium and keeps the "water" on those fun female fat-pocket areas.
The single-most effective exercise does not exist, but my favorite is being creative with push-ups and squat variations.  Try push-ups with one arm and alternate between arms.  Or even try doing 10-15 push-ups on your knuckles and immediately get into squats.  Slowly add weights and you will see results.  These two exercises will increase your heart rate to burn fat faster, and it targets those hard-to-get “fatty” areas.
DD: You are a celebrity trainer. Do celebrities have the same body challenges as other women?  Do any examples come to mind?
JC: Women are women no matter what. Shapes and sizes change depending on genetics, but females face the same challenges in the thighs, buttocks, lower belly, and "back fat" areas.  Plus they actually have to change shape/size depending on the roles they have.  They don’t get the luxury of relaxing into one certain fitness routine to achieve their "ideal" body.  I focus on the areas they need help with most.  I have a good ear to listen to goals, but a better eye to see what really needs to be fixed and make that happen for them personally and their public! :o)
I trained a national TV host who just gave birth. She wanted to get back in that bathing-suit body just in time for the summer.  Some things we worked on were the new “mommy” areas, like the thighs and lower belly fat. The “mommy fitness” routine was divided into circuits and she gradually saw results.  Here is a sample routine I did with her:
First Circuit:  New Mommy Starter Crunches: Extend your arms with fingertips on upper thighs.  Contract your abdominal muscles and raise head and shoulders and slide arms up until you touch your knees, then lower head back down. Work up to 10 repetitions of this exercise.
Second Circuit: Extended LegBridge: Lying on your back, right knee bent with foot flat on floor, left leg extended straight in the air.  Drive down through right foot and raise hip and press through left heel up into ceiling, and then relax back to starting position.
Third Circuit: Baby Wall Squats: (This also helps with posture and lower body strength for lifting that baby!)  Stand against a wall with your back flat from your shoulders to your hips. Your spine should be touching the wall. Walk your feet out slightly and, bending your knees, slide down the wall, keeping your back flat. Then return to the starting position.
(Editor’s Note: This routine would work for any woman trying to firm her abdomen, bell, butt and thighs — hello!)

Ball of balm

All the girls at DolceDolce went crazy over Twist and Pout. These cute little balls are filled with clear SPF 20 lip gloss. They made every girl who got one smile.   The little balms balls come in different themed collections: The Ballmania Collection looks like little sports balls and The Purr-fection Collection is an array of wild animal prints. So sexy!   The have also added The Clip Collection, which attaches to your bag or back pack.  All the balls have a cute mirror in the lid to keep your pucker perfect.  The glosses in Ballmania and Purr-fection are clear, and those in the Clip Collection have sheer red tint.
The glosses start at rescission friendly $10.  They add new collections all the time.

That thing in a jar

Spicy noodlesRecently I attended a swelegent summer do hosted by PR maven and party girl Toren Anderson and friends for That Thing in a Jar. It was fabulous fun to sip elegant cocktails and chilled wine around a lovely pool. We tasted delicious “jarred” delights cooked up by some of Atlanta’s top chefs.  We nibbled on pickled okra and corn salad from Rosebud, a ham salad topped with crispy bacon from Parish, and a lobster and mango cocktail from C&S Oyster Bar. There were lots of other jarred gourmet delights.
Chef Nick Melvin from Parish with a "jar" topped with crisp baconToren’s novel concept is to present treasured recipes in simple, portable packages – jars. They make party food easy and fun to eat.
“Not only does the jar presentation offer a simple starting point,” says Toren, “it’s also campy and has a funk factor.  Already we are getting feedback of brides having jar food served at their weddings, jar food showers, jar BBQ’s and jar hostess gifts. One idea we are using is having all recipes printed, rolled in scrolls and tied with ribbons then put them in quart jars as party favors. Guests react as if it’s the best gift ever. Maybe it is.”Judith McLoughlin and an Irish "Thing in a jar"Get in on the fun of “That Thing in Jar” as Toren adds recipes and events to the site. http://www.thatthinginajar.com/home.html

One-step Hair care

If you watch TV, chances are you have seen Chaz Dean’s infomercial for Wen Hair care and wondered does it work?  Well, I tried it and it does. The Wen Lavender Cleansing Conditioner takes some getting used to, but it leaves your hair clean and soft. 
First of all, it’s not an all-natural product as you may think, because of all the botanicals in it and the fabulous scent. It does have some chemicals, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. They are not harmful and they make it a very effective product. What it does not have is any of the detergents commonly found in most shampoos. The product is strange to use as it doesn’t lather, but it smells divine. I worried it would leave my fine hair greasy. It didn’t, but my hair was not as fluffy as it usually is. It was soft and shiny.
After washing my hair, I used Wen Lavender Volumizng Treatment Spray to blow-dry and style it.  Again, I love the smell of this product.  It also has amazing holding power.  It is great if your hair is starting to dry out as you style it.  I would use this product even if I did not use any other Wen product, it is that good.
If you have thick coarse hair that is dry and wiry, you will love Wen. Curly-haired gals will also love it. It is rich and conditioning, and naturally fights frizz.  If you love a soft, gentle, one-step routine, Wen may also be for you. It is expensive, but if you love it, you’ll crave it. 
I also tried Wen Sweet Almond Mint Oil.  You can use it as bath and body oil.  Like all Wen products, it smells divine. It also says you can use it in your hair, but I haven’t tried that yet. I love it as body oil, and a little goes a long way.
You can buy it by joining a monthly “Wen Club” and get a shipment of the whole system for about $30 each month, or you can buy individual products through www.chazdean.com  

Fashionista must-have!

The Gospel According to Coco Chanel by Karen Karbo is an off-beat and amusing look at the life of Coco Chanel.  Karbo adores fashion, but is more of a fashion historian than fashionista.  She tells Coco’s story with wit and verve, deftly separating legend and fact.

It is full of sharp observations as well as advice and tips on how to become a star a la Chanel.  I loved this book and Karbo’s take on the one and only Gabrielle Chanel. I only wished it had pictures, but the illustrations are adorable.
Buy it for yourself and devour it immediately. I did! Buy another for your favourite fashionista. A perfect for holiday gift giving.

Woman be wise

If you are tempted to lend money, swap a house, or enter into any arrangement without a written agreement, think twice.  Putting it in Writing! Creating Agreements between Family and Friends by Deborah Hutchinson and Lynn Toler, Judge of Divorce Court is the perfect book for our times in many ways.

Tough times can put us all in tricky situations. We can be called on to lend money, cars, and apartments, or do other favours.  Most of us are glad to help, but fear what could happen if things go wrong.  This book provides forms and mechanisms to avoid misunderstandings without costly legal fees.
It’s written by experts who can help keep things harmonious and trouble-free. And if things go badly, then you have the right stuff to go before a judge and win your case. Look for it on bookshelves in September.

Fresh stuffed figs with balsamic syrup

Fresh figs, sweet cheese and rich balsamicFresh figs are plentiful and ripe in late summer.  They make a great first course, or you can serve them as a light dessert.  Try figs stuffed with a mellow goat cheese or slightly-sweetened mascarpone.  For a simple starter, drape or wrap them with salty proscuitto.  The salty ham contrasts with the sweet fig nicely. You can also drizzle the cheese-stuffed jewels with reduced balsamic. 
Serve 2 ripe figs per person
Wash and cut off stems
Split into 4, but do not cut thru the fig. Open it like a flower.
Beat 1 tbsp. confection/icing sugar into ½ cup mascarpone cheese
Reduce 1 cup of balsamic to ½ cup (I use the microwave. I poured the balsamic into a glass measuring cup, and reduced it in bursts until it was done.)
Dust with finely chopped almonds or pistachios.
Drizzle with the reduced balsamic.