From fairy tale to fairy godmother

Princess Anne Banton-LoftersWhen I first interviewed Princess Anne Banton-Lofters I felt her life read like a modern fairy tale. She had been a young single mother from Toronto who worked in a bank.  Then, she met a handsome man, fell in love, got married and moved to Atlanta. Shortly afterwards, she created and produced one of the hottest shows on Bravo TV, The Real Housewives of Atlanta. You can read all about it my original interview.

A year later, I met with Princess as she launched her new production company, Loft 22. A lot has changed in that time. Princess is the still the same outgoing, friendly women I first met. In case you are wondering about the lady behind The Real Housewives of Atlanta, she is attractive, well-spoken and not remotely wild or crazy acting. Princess Anne is her real name. She has a sense of humour and there is no doubt she loves her adopted southern home.
Beneath her mild-mannered exterior, this transplanted Canadian is ambitious. She is building her own film and TV empire here in the south. She has a spanking new production facility in hip midtown Atlanta. There is also an exciting new project called Boy’s ClubATL in development. It sounds like Real Housewives with a cast of high-status men.
So, Princess is also holding the first Southern Television and Film Summit (STAFS) this October in Atlanta. She is very excited about it.
Her enthusiasm for the region is hard to contain. She explained that, as we spoke, there were 265 productions shooting in Georgia. She rocked back and smiled as she delivers her coup de grace; there is a 35 percent tax break on all types of film and TV production in the state.
Princess wrangled some impressive talent for the STAFS. Her keynote speaker for the event is independent film and television producer Monty Ross. He is best known for his work with Spike Lee on films such as She’s Gotta Have It. He has 27 years of experience the industry.
Attendees will also hear from and have access to an impressive list of industry insiders. They are all listed on the website.  But most important to those who aspire to write, direct, or produce, is the opportunity to pitch. For a small additional fee, participates will get to pitch their projects one-on-one to an appropriate industry insider. I asked Princess point-blank whether these would be legitimate opportunities. She answered me with an emphatic ‘yes’. She told me that one of her main motivations in starting the STAFS, “is to give someone else the opportunity I had. Not everyone gets the opportunities I have had,” she said ruefully.
Princess has very clear ideas about how her weekend of television and film mentoring will run. The summit will take place in one big room – even food and drink will be available there. “I didn’t want anyone thinking they missed anything or that they were left out of anything”, she explained. “This way, if they miss something, it is because they chose to leave and miss it.” She also accepted only experts who agreed to interact with the attendees. She told me she did not want anyone to speak who wanted to just speak and leave. She still has high hopes of getting Bravo’s Andy Cohen to participate. But because of his heavy work schedule, she won’t know until closer to the date. Andy Cohen is Vice-President of Bravo, the cutting edge realty TV network, as well as a popular on-air personality.
As she spoke, I remembered our first interview. She described her initial life-changing meeting with a television executive; it was facilitated by mutual friends. She also described her access here in Atlanta to a much flossier lifestyle than she had in Canada. The women she met at parties here became the inspiration for The Real Housewives of Atlanta. This was followed by many months of travel between Los Angeles and Atlanta
Princess laughed when I said she had come a long way from working in a bank in Toronto. She candidly shared that she had also worked very hard as a single mother attain her position in that bank. I don’t doubt it. In of spite of her success, there is something real and refreshing about Princess in her aspirations for herself and others. It could also explain why she has kept the cost of the summit very affordable. A student pass for all three days is $150, and an advance registration pass for all three days is $249.
She also told me that her teenage son, Anthony, was working at Loft 22 for the summer. “He gets the perks, so he has to know it isn’t all for free”. She said with a laugh. The mother and son clearly adore each other. But I could tell she meant business. As we chatted, it became clear that Princess has no intention of bringing up a spoiled child.
I am interested to see how the next chapter of Princess Anne Banton-Lofter’s modern fairy tale plays out, as she transforms herself from the woman who got her fairytale dream-come-true, to a fairy godmother for television and film hopefuls.
The Southern Film and Television Summit in AtlantaOctober 15-17, 2010 information:

Walk your way to a Brazilian butt

Esther GokhaleAccording to Esther Gokhale, author of 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back and creator of the Gokhale Method, you can get perfect Brazilian butt just by changing your stride. Esther an acupuncturist, author, and expert in pain-free-living, developed “glidewalking”, which helps prevent back pain as well foot and leg stress. It can also give you a shapely uplifted butt.

To find out how to improve your stride, shape your butt, get rid of a poochy stomach, and avoid neck-crunch, read this fascinating and informative interview with Ester Gokhale. I have been using her tips for last few days and my neck is already feeling better.
DD:  Can changing the way you walk or sit really alleviate back pain?
EG: Absolutely. We sit for many hours every day. Depending on how you sit, you could be either causing or healing a back problem. This is also true of walking.  
If you sit with poor form – for example, tuck your pelvis and slump – you damage your spinal discs, vertebrae, and possibly your spinal nerves the whole time you sit. If you land heavily with every stride and your bones are misaligned, you inappropriately jolt the bony surfaces within your joints with every step you take. That damages your joints and causes osteoarthritis.
On the other hand, if you sit with your "tail" behind you, and have your bones well-stacked, you improve your back with every breath you take. Every inhalation lengthens your spine causing healthy circulation that helps your spinal tissues heal. If you walk by engaging your gluteal muscles to propel you forward into gentle landings, your muscles get a healthy workout and your spine is spared unnecessary stress. 
If you have back pain, it is important to learn healthy ways to sit and walk because you sit and walk a lot, because sitting and walking well can end your back pain, and because unhealthy sitting and walking will worsen your pain.  

DD: Is there any way to help "uncrunch" a kinked neck after working too long at the computer or driving?
EG: First, you want to learn which way is up. Grasp a good-sized clump of hair at the base of your skull and gently pull your head back and up while relaxing your chin down to find a comfortable baseline position for your neck. 
To help keep your neck in place, it may help to imagine a helium balloon in your head that you relax your neck muscles to let float upward. If this is not enough, it can be very helpful to place a small weight (something that wouldn’t hurt your feet if it fell off your head) at the top of your head.
As a supplemental stretch it helps to elongate the back of your neck against the headrest of your car when you seat yourself in your car and against the pillow when you lie on your back at night. This will make it easier for your neck to maintain its natural length during the day.
DD: Can you really get a "Brazilian butt" from walking correctly?
EG: Butt of course! If you learn to squeeze your glutes with every step you take, you are getting far more reps than you could possibly get from going to a gym. Walking well, I call it glidewalking, is a tremendous opportunity for toning your butt. The Brazilians do it naturally and you can learn this as well! Be sure you are engaging not just the gluteus maximus, but also the gluteus medius – that’s the buttock muscle that keeps the butt perky no matter what your age. Here’s to your newly toned and perky "bunda" (Brazilian word for butt)!
DD: Can walking correctly help correct a protruding stomach?
EG: Yes, and so can sitting and standing correctly. There are two things to learn here:
1. Anteverting or tipping the pelvis forward. Contrary to popular belief, the human pelvis is meant to be tipped forward (with the "tail" pointing behind). This gives room for the pelvic organs and also the belly skin, muscles, and fat. When people tuck their pelvis, either out of habit or because they are taught to, they compress their organs and make their belly "pooch" out. This is not healthy or especially attractive. I believe that this single postural distortion is responsible for more health problems in our society than any other.
2. Periodically engaging the "inner corset" to make for a slenderer, taller and better protected spine. When your spine is under stress (example, carrying a weight, running, twisting, etc.) it is natural and highly desirable to engage your deeper abdominal muscles to protect your spinal discs, nerves and vertebrae. As a byproduct, you also get a toned abdomen and svelte physique. A free download of the "Inner Corset" chapter from my book is available on the home page at
DD: Can chronic foot pain be avoided or alleviated by a change in stride?
EG: It’s very unfortunate that podiatrists rarely check or teach stance or gait. It is common sense that how you stand and walk is highly relevant to foot problems. Another common misconception is that you are stuck with the shape of the foot you have. Actually, you can do a lot to change your feet. 
Here are some important aspects of gait that can help your feet;
1. Landing softly (by squeezing your rear buttock so your front heel and foot joints are not getting jolted with every step.)
2. Using the muscles on the underside of your foot to preserve the convex shape of your foot as you use it help push off. You don’t want your back foot to bend backwards too much as that puts a lot of strain on the ball of the foot (including the area where bunions form) and the plantar fascia. You want to engage your foot muscles at push off so you are propelling off the heel and then the big toe instead of the ball of the foot. I tell my students to walk across a floor the way a lizard climbs a wall. Students of our six-session Gokhale Method Foundations course report resolving their bunions, plantar fasciitis, Morton’s neuroma, sesamoid bone pain, and various other foot problems. 

For more information:

Lite summer delight

Skinny peanut butter treatsAnne Gravel has the skinny on the tastiest summer treats:

In the middle of a hot, hot summer when the heat won’t let up, indulging in some ice cream is just heavenly!  Unfortunately, ice-cream has its set-backs; especially in the middle of swimsuit season. That’s why I was so excited to hear this cool news: Skinny Cow has got some new and awesome ice cream flavours. If you’re not familiar with Skinny Cow, here is the lowdown: they make delish ice cream products. My favourites are the ice cream sandwiches. They are low-fat and low-cal.
Don't try to fool Anne with a mingy portion!Here’s what I hate about most diet products: companies that boast they are low-cal when all they do is serve out portions meant for Lilliputians. Portion control can be helpful in pre-packaged foods but please, call a spade a spade. They are not “low-cal” – they are just stingy.  
Fortunately, Skinny Cow products come in healthy sizes, their ice-cream sandwiches are framed in soft but dense and rich chocolate cookie goodness, and now they are also available in Cookies n’ Cream (yum!) and Mint (yum!). The best part is that they will only set you back 150 calories and 2 grams of fat.
I also love the Mint and Chocolate Chip Haagen-Dazs ice cream flavour my boyfriend is constantly buying. Unfortunately for me, it packs 300 calories and 20 grams of fat per half cup. Haagen-Dazs is lauded for its natural ingredients. If that appeals to you but you want to try a lower-cal alternative, you’ll want to try Breyer’s All-Natural. The chocolate flavour has 140 calories per half-cup and seven grams of fat. Substitute it for Haagen-Dazs and you’ll be saving 160 calories and 13 grams of fat per serving!


Darlings, make even your shower a beauty indulgence. These two new Softsoap Body Washes treat your skin and your senses. They are inexpensive – so be lavish!

Nutri Serums Mineral Extracts is infused with mineral extracts. It gives your summer-parched skin concentrated dose of nutrients. It also gives your skin natural shimmery radiance. It’s sexy!
Body Butter Mega Moisture Heavenly Vanilla has a moisture-rich formula that leaves skin soft for hours. The vanilla scent isn’t cloying, but delicious and relaxing.
Find them at your favourite drug or grocery shop – and indulge!

The sisterhood of lingerie

Deep in the Orthodox Jewish ghetto of Brooklyn is world of women who frequent basement shops that sell shoes, dresses, and lingerie. Ilana Stanger-Ross sets her tale, Sima’s Undergarments for Women in this warm, vibrant world, where women come to gossip and share their happiness and heartbreaks. It sounds, so trite, but Stanger-Ross has penned a tale that is authentic and universal.

Life changes for Sima, a 50-something woman, when Timna a beautiful, young Israeli woman enters her lingerie shop. Timna is fresh out of the army and looking for her place in a city she finds intimidating. Her youth and beauty stir feelings in Sima about her own life. She is forced to confront her feelings about never having had children, as well as secrets from her past as she bonds with Timna. The vibrant, tumultuous young woman forces Sima and her husband to look for what they lost years ago.
This powerful dynamic marriage and womanhood midlife plays out against the very serious business of buying lingerie.
This is a mesmerizing and enchanting tale about the sisterhood of women and also about finding yourself and daring to love. It elevates human emotion and relationships well above the usually trite handling of deep and universal themes.

Banish dreaded back acne

 Acne is not fun ever, but back acne in summer is really rough. Sun dresses and bathing suits seem designed to humiliate back acne sufferers. Hot weather and sweat aggravate breakouts. To compound the problem, who can reach their back to apply a remedy? Glytone, one of the most trusted and effective profession skin care lines has a solution – Glytone Acne Treatment Back Spray. It has two percent salicylic acid, a proven acne treatment, in an easy-to-apply spray. Spritz on twice a day and see an improvement. 

This product can be used as a follow-up to back peel. If you have a serious skin problem, including acne, go see a dermatologist or an acne clinic.
Be sure to share this any afflicted men in your life, they deserve a smooth back too! Great for teens.

Are you baked?

Protect your hairJust because you love the beach, it doesn’t mean you hair does. Sun and salt can leave your hair and skin looking baked. And the chlorine from a swimming pool is even more devastating. It not only dries your hair, but can leave colour looking funny –washed-out or greenish. Even the strong sun you’re exposed to every day when running errands and just hanging out can be strand-distressing. 

Don’t despair; Rene Furterer has a solution to revive and rehydrate your dried locks. The Sun Care line has rich palm butter and a special complex of photosterols, cermatides, and essential fatty acids to revive hair. These lush ingredients in Sun Care Shampoo gently cleanse fried hair. It is especially kind to highlighted or coloured hair.
The Sun Care Repairing After Sun Mask and No-Rinse Moisturizing Spray also have special ingredients to detangle hair without damage.
Sun Care Water Proof Nutritive Oil KPF 90 is sun screen for your hair. It is scientifically proven to protect 90 percent of the hair’s keratin. Its sesame oil is a natural UV block as well as deep conditioner. It also prevents chlorine and salt from building up and damaging hair. One application lasts all day.
Sun Care Water proof Moisturizing Fluid KPF 90 is a lighter version of the same essential sunscreen for hair. It won’t weigh down fine hair, but it will keep it hydrated and protected.
Just spray one of these luxe sprays on to damp hair. Slick back hair and braid long hair for sexy classic look. Don’t forget your no-break elastics. I use the Goody brand with the little no-slip balls from the drug store.  
Darlings if you are like me, you spend too much time and money on your hair to fry it in the sun and then soak it in salt and chemicals. Protect your hair as you do your skin and you’ll be gorgeous when the sun goes down.
DolceDolce Tip for taming frizzy hair:
Beat the frizzy-blues. If all the recent humidity has made your naturally curly hair frizz, try Rene Furterer Acanthe Perfect Curls Enhancing Leave in Fluid for defined curls.
And if your sleekly blown dry hair has succumbed to the heat too, try Rene Furterer Myrrhea Anti-Frizz Hair Care for Unruly and Rebellious Hair. There is a whole range of this line as there is for Acanthe. Just a little Myrrhea Silkening Fluid is a serum that will tame most hair before blow drying. We have fully reviewed both of these lines in recent issues.

Skinny molten chocolate cake

Looks sinful, but it's not!This week I am going to share secrets and a decadent but “skinny” recipe from “The Bikini Chef”. Susan Irby AKA “The Bikini Chef” is the real deal. She knows how to squeeze calories out of a recipe and leave the flavour. I was shocked at how good and "skinny" they were. In her book, Substitute Yourself Skinny, she shows to keep the taste and cut the calories with simple substitutions.

Substitute Yourself Skinny has 175 super-slimming recipes that are sometimes down right decadent. Many are familiar favourites.
I love the way the book is organized. Susan knows you have goals and she makes it easier to accomplish them. She has sections such as: Jumpstart-Your-Day Breakfasts; Energizing Lunches; Thinner Dinners; Slimming Sides; Guilt-Free Snacks and Appetizers; and Deliciously Skinny Desserts. How easy does that sound, and how tempting?

The book has tips, tricks, calories counts, and nutritional information. Best of all, like all my favourite cooking "lite and right" books, it is done by a real chef, so you will want to eat the food.
Smitten for molten chocolate cake
Cutting back slightly on the amount of whipping cream and using fewer eggs are great ways to maintain flavor and texture without sacrificing the consistency of this dessert favorite:
6 tablespoons butter, plus extra for greasing
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons whipping cream
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease eight ramekins or custard cups with butter.
2. In the top of a double-boiler, combine the butter and chocolate, and heat until both are melted. Stir gently to combine. Stir in the whipping cream. Add the flour. Gently stir to combine.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the vanilla, eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until well combined and the mixture thickens, about eight minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold one-third of the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture until it is well-blended. Repeat until all is combined.
4. Pour equal amounts of the mixture into each ramekin, filling about 3/4-full. Bake for seven to eight, until the edges are set and the center is jiggly.
Serves 8
Serving size 1 mini-molten cake
Calories per serving: Original recipe 451 SYS recipe 191
Calorie savings: 260
Skinny Secret: Whenever possible, use dark baking chocolate for recipes. It has a higher cocoa content, rich chocolate flavor, and less sugar. As an added bonus, it is more easily digested because it is rich in natural cocoa.