Sunday Special: On My Radar

I swear my brain is programmed to desire shopping more during the holiday season.  We’ve been indoctrinated from a young age that the holidays are for gift-giving, and with Black Friday less than a week away, my urge to shop is rising.  And I’ve been giving in.

Case in point?  This weekend brought mini-splurges at the Bella + Canvas sample sale, a friend’s Chloe + Isabel show, and even Bed, Bath & Beyond (where I found this amazing hashtag light-up sign for the wedding!).  Sigh.  Who am I to fight the power of the season?

That said, I haven’t done an On My Radar post in a while, so here we go – a special holiday edition of OMR – perhaps more like a Dear Santa?  Enjoy!

Is there anything more calming than the scent of chamomile?  I was recently tipped off to an amazing eye makeup remover that smells of it, and I am now obsessed with slowly making every scent in my bathroom include some hint of chamomile (even better: with honey!) by the end of the year.  Come to find out – the Body Shop has a whole line of the stuff, in varying levels of intensity.  Just say ahhhh…..

I’ve gotten so used to my old, stinky, black gym backpack that I forget there are actual cute, stylish options out there.  This one is deceptively glam, with a Birkin-bag look and amazing functionality (yes, it actually holds a water bottle, gym clothes, and shoes in there!).  I have no idea how much shipping would be as this one’s only available across the pond, but dang, is it nice to look at.

I’ve been really hooked on this metallic teal eyeliner I’ve been wearing lately, and it’s got me thinking: what other colored eyeliners would really pop?  Cue the Dior Addict-It liquid eyeliner in hot pink – I am pretty sure I need it, whether I layer it with black (the subtle way) or lay it on thick across my eyelids (the Manda way, let’s be honest).  I found it once at Sephora but haven’t seen it again since, and I fear it will be discontinued before I actually get up the courage to bite the bullet.

Of course I love jewelry – my favorite mug (given to me by a dear friend) reads, “Accessories are Necessities” – and it’s true!  But what I don’t have is the perfect simple-yet-statement necklace that is versatile (gold-plate goes with everything!) but creative enough to actually make a statement – oh, and did I mention it’s cheap to boot?  This is a total find and would be adorable for any world traveler – or those with world traveling aspirations.

If any of you out there reading are my personal training clients, you know I love me some Bosu.  The Bosu (which for the rest of you is that weird half-ball thing you see floating around gym floors) comes in one color: blue.  That is, until recently.  They introduced a beautiful hot pink one (priced almost 50% higher than the original, natch) to raise money for breast cancer research and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have it.  Who wants a plain ol’ blue Bosu when you can have PINK?!?!  I mean, come on.

I just realized that pretty much everything I’ve posted here is either a beauty or fitness product (what does this tell you about my life?).  Let’s break the mold here with something really wild – home decor!  Ok, maybe not so wild.  And I just realized that I already have the map theme established with the necklace above – but whatever, I love maps.  And this Cost Plus 6-Canvas Map Set is such a cool way to display a map in your home without looking cheesy or overdone.  I can totally see it on the massive white expanse that is our living room wall.

And finally – the piece de resistance – even though I just bought two amazing pairs of sneakers from the Adidas outlet sale, I can’t get my mind off the sweet sweet kicks that are Nike Flyknit Free 3.0.  They just look so dang light and socklike, yet still functional and appropriate for both work and looking awesome on the street.  One day I will have you, my pretties (and hey – they’ve already marked down from $140 to $99, so anything can happen).

That’s my Christmas list in progress, guys, but I’d love to hear what you’re looking for this holiday season!

What’s on your Dear Santa list?  What can’t wait for Christmas – i.e. what’s on your Black Friday list?

Sunday Special: Love Your Body 2014

So let’s chat about something we all deal with, shall we?  Body image.  Do you love your body?  Do you loathe your body?  Are you somewhere in between?

On my best days, I feel like a strong, athletic goddess.  On my worst, I feel like a squishy pile of lifeless marshmallow fluff.  On the average day, I feel like an average person – decephoto 1 (1)ntly fit, unremarkable, normal-looking.  But can I truly say I love my body?

Today I was invited to an empowerment event called Love Your Body, held in L.A. at the Luxe Sunset Hotel.  The creators of the event, Karen (of Karen Michelle designs, on Robertson) and Mia, emphasize developing healthy body image, wellness at all sizes, and positive interactions among and between all women (stuff TFB definitely stands for, too, by the way).

The day started with a showcase of amazing products presented by predominantly female entrepreneurs, including the awesome and utilitarian Sash Bags (onephoto 2 (1) of which I am dying to have for my upcoming travels – so functional and cute!), Runway Kids boutique (some of the most fashion-forward yet age-appropriate kidswear I’ve ever seen), and Papa Ben’s Kitchen (the fanciest, tastiest biscotti you’ve ever tried).

From there, we sat down in the forum area to hear from Elise Joan of Red Diamond Yoga (which just so happens to be right by my house -score!) about her struggles with body image, and she shared one of the best quotes I’d heard in a long time about dealing with adversity:photo 5

“The barn’s burnt down, but now I can see the moon.”

I have to remember to use that one for particularly frustrating times (like right this second, when my barely two-year old Macbook Air has gone on the fritz – AGAIN – and this time the repair costs are almost as much as a new computer would cost…sigh).  But I digress – back to the event!

After Elise, we heard from plus-size model (and real-life food addict, who was so candid and honest about her struggles with 6000+ calorie binges, bulimia, and yo-yo diets) Danika Brysha – and girlfriend was laying it down.

She’s seephoto 4n/done it all – the anorexic size-zero fashion industry pressure, the binge-drinking coke-snorting party days  – and emerged instead as a positive body-image role model and owner of a clean eating delivery service in NYC (Model Meals, check it out) who goes around the nation speaking about nutrition and fuel.  Awesome, right?

After the speakers, we sat down (front row, b*tches) for the fashion show – the main event, if you will, showcasing models of all ages, sizes, and body types, in clothing designed and made by women.

photo 3Some of my fave looks came from a brand called Cali Free, a California-style fashion emporium with affordable clothes and laid-back vibes (yep, designer stuff that I can actually afford to purchase), although there were tons of cute, new designs

Watching everyone from the sweetest little girls to
the most bodacious and self-confident sassy ladies walk down the runway with flair was definitely the best part of the day.  I kept thinking back to when I was a little girl and how excited I would have been to participate in an event like this (and let’s be honest, I would’ve probably asked them if I could do a back flip down the runway).  What a truly great opportunity for young girls and women to connect through the universal language of (self) love.

photo 5 (1)Major thanks to my friend and fellow blogger over at Pugs & Pearls for inviting me (and hooking me up as “press”) to this event – I will definitely be back again next year.

That said, the event got me thinking about my question above: do I really love my body?  Do I treat it with respect?  Can I remember the compliments and forget the critics?  Should I make food choices based on how I want to feel or just how I want to look?  These are the tough ones.  And these are the reasons that events like this, that help us silence the critical voices in our heads and focus on the positive, need to keep happening.

What motivates you to self-love?  What activities/rituals/thoughts help you love your body?

Love Your Body – For Real

I am conflicted about the whole “love your body” movement.  I mean, the basic message is airtight – be proud of what you have – but I feel like it too often goes one of two ways: either a) “love” your body but secretly still desire to be a size 0, or b) actually love your body, but prepare to be judged if that body is anything outside the accepted feminine norms of size, shape, muscularity, etc.

Rock and a hard place, as always.

That’s why I love events like the upcoming Annual Love Your Body Fashion Show, where women from all different backgrounds, shapes, sizes, and gender presentations are invited to come together and enjoy the things that make every body feel good – yoga, massages, manicures, tasty food, amazing clothing, and a community that accepts and welcomes the diversity of women.

My favorite part?  The event is open to girls age 8 and older, which means you can bring your daughters, nieces, and other important young ladies in your life to the event and show them what acceptance, beauty, difference, and self-love look like.  There’s not a woman on the planet who couldn’t use a dose of that every now and then – especially here in image-obsessed Los Angeles.

For more info, check out the event’s Facebook page and follow them for more info.  The event is Sunday, November 2nd from 10:30am-3:00pm and is completely free with pre-registration.  I’ll be there with my girl Jenny from Pugs & Pearls, and we’d love to meet up with fellow love-your-body bloggers, too!

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Ever heard of Fabletics?  Yep, it’s Kate Hudson’s athletic apparel brand – and it’s all the rage.  When she launched the brand, their savvy PR team reached out to a bunch of local L.A. trainers (including yours truly!) to join up as “Fabletics Ambassadors.”

From the start, I never really understood the program.  You basically give some shout-outs to Fabletics, pump your referral link all over your social networks, and hope that people will buy stuff and get you credits.  I’ve never been comfortable with this business model; I am all about letting people know when I love and support a product, but I absolutely hate the idea of pushing products onto other people for my own gain.  I am not a born salesman; never will be.

Intermittently during the program we got “surveys” asking random questions about the products and imploring us to hold Fabletics “events,” another concept I never really latched onto (come to the gym – and buy my stuff!).  I was once featured on the Fabletics blog as a guest writer, but even that never really took off as a prominent feature of the program.

I just didn’t get it.

Long story short, today I got a “thanks but no thanks” email from the Fabletics peeps, letting me know that because I hadn’t held any events, I would not be needed in the upcoming year of the program.

And I could not be more relieved.

To be honest, I never loved the Fabletics gear – I only liked it, and liked it in the way you like a plain old white T-shirt in the back of your closet – you’re glad you have it, it has its uses, but more or less you forget that it’s even there and only pull it out when everything else is in the wash.  I was never excited for Fabletics.  I was never gushing to my friends about Fabletics, nor would I consider it on par with my fave fitness brands – even my trusty (read: cheap and amazing) Old Navy.

On my way out, I of course had to use up the credits I DID have, so I picked up this graphic yellow top, ombre capri pants, and cool painter-print shorts.  Fingers are crossed that the inconsistent sizing in the brand works in my favor…

…but I am now a free agent – and ready to explore some up-and-coming brands to really find the cutting-edge fitness wear I so desperately seek – things with cool colors, flattering cuts, creative patterns, and multi-use pieces that I can actually wear “in real life” without looking like I just jumped off a Spin bike (which, by the way, I almost always AM doing).

Until I have the capital to design and produce my own fitnesswear, I’d love to see the best of what’s out there – and track down the “next big thing” in terms of cool, cute, functional gym clothing and accessories.  So that said:

What are your favorite fitness brands?  What do you always WISH you had but can never find in the stores?  Let’s brainstorm together!

Long Hair Don’t Care

Hair.  It’s the bane of existence for many of us active ladies – and even those who don’t work up a sweat on a regular basis can relate to the utter pain of trying to maintain a decent-looking hairstyle for more than the 10 minutes immediately after you style it.

I see girls in the gym with long ponytails down their back and all I can think is: how are you not getting sweaty?  I head to Spin class with a cute, flippy ponytail and within 5 minutes it’s a wet, sticky rattail glued to my sweaty shoulders.

Same applies to braids.  I look at a nice, tight French braid and think – hey, I could do that! – and then when I try, my layers stick out all over the place, the braid unravels, and I am left with about a third of my hair in a low-lying elastic band and the rest in pieces flying around my (again, sweaty) face.

Don’t even start me on those stupid 1/2″ thick rubber headbands.  For whom do these function in their intended fashion?  I have a ridiculously small pinhead (think child-size) and the second I put one of these bad boys ONTO my head, it’s already looping off the crown of my head and hanging off the bun or ponytail secured behind it.  Epic accessory fail.

So those of you who know me “in real life” know that I have exactly ONE workable workout hairdo: the wet bun.

The wet bun is not just a topknot.  Oh no, my friends, the wet bun is cemented to my scalp through the miracle of hairspraying wet hair, twisting it into the highest bun possible (so it doesn’t interfere with me lying supine on a bench or floor), and hairspraying it again for a shellac of a hairstyle that will then stay in place until a) I take it down or b) nuclear holocaust.

The wet bun works.  But the wet bun is not glamorous.  It is not trendy.  It is functional, decent-looking, and that’s about it.

I have searched high and low for hairstyles that can accommodate both my need to look like a professional human in the gym (i.e. no messy buns, loose ponytails, or half-up styles) and my need to keep sweaty hair off my face and back.  This is no small feat.  A comprehensive internet search for alternatives has revealed the following:

The braided updo.  Sure, it looks nice, and sure, it’s trendy.  But for me to get all of my hair a) braided and b) pinned into this complicated milkmaid look would take about 1.5 hours and 150 bobby pins – and would still probably fall out due to the number of layers I have in my hair.  No thanks.

The braided pigtails.  A variation on the above, this version would definitely be quicker, but I’ve worn pigtails before – and while I think I look OK in them, I also think I look a bit childish, and maybe even a bit unintentionally sexy, which is probably not great for work.  Couple that with the fact that they flip around in front of and behind my shoulders and it would take about 1/2 mile of getting hit in the face by my own hair to rip the braids out and shove them back into the bun.

The sectioned ponytail.  Apparently this one has been all over the runways of late, popular for both its relative ease (make a ponytail, grab some more hair, make another one) and its functionality (it definitely looks like it stays put).  That said, I’m not sure I like the semi-futuristic look of it all, and again, I feel like it would take more time in the bathroom than it would be worth for the ugly-cute nature of the style.

The almost-too-fancy gym updo.  A lot of styles I found were some variation of a braid/bun/twist accented with a fancy clip or headband that seemed to me like too much work, cuteness, and frou-frou for an actual workout.  Maybe these women are trying to do the whole gym-to-lunch thing that I’ve never mastered or understood?  Maybe they have permanently blocked sebaceous glands that disallow sweat from gracing their gentle brows.  I like the idea of using accessories but again, given that the tiny rubber headbands don’t really work for my head, I am skeptical of other such products even trying to stay put.

My search for the perfect sweatproof style now moves on to YOU, dear readers:

How do you style your hair when you exercise?  Do you use any accessories that you love and can recommend?  Which styles would you like to try out in the gym?

Spring/Summer 2015 Activewear in Review

We all love NYFW (New York Fashion Week), right? (well, if you don’t, it’s probably about time to click on through this post).  I sure as heck do.  But what I love most in recent years is seeing the way that the activewear trend – whether you want to call it sportif, yoga-to-brunch, or the slew of other adjectives describing the way gym clothes are increasingly becoming mainstream – is absolutely here to stay.

I don’t fancy myself any sort of fashion expert, but I am buying gym clothes almost every week, and I am definitely clued in to what is “hot” among the leading fitness-fashion retailers (think lululemon, Athleta, Lucy, Old Navy, Target C9, Nike, Adidas/Stella McCartney, live love dream, and Under Armour, to name just a few of my faves).  The Athleta show at NYFW was probably the most amazing thing to happen all week, and lots of bloggers are following new fit fashion labels even if they’re not strutting down the runways.

That said, I have strong opinions on some of the Spring 2015 trends in terms of how they apply to fit fashion.

First of all, let’s talk jackets.  I am so sick of sweatshirt hoodies I could just scream – and apparently designers have heard my cries, because all over the runways this year were cool-looking, parka-and-windbreaker inspired pieces (like this one from Rag & Bone) that, when thrown over a pair of textured black running tights and paired with some sweet neon kicks, could really elevate your typical “Starbucks after Spin” look.  The fact that they’re coming out in all shapes and sizes – crops, prints, hooded, asymmetrical seaming – makes the trend even more fun.

How about my girl Dianne Von Furstenberg?  I have loved her stuff since the early days of the office-to-cocktails wrap dress, but what I love about her S/S 2015 is the color-overlaid black and white oversized gingham print.  There is nothing I love more than a “traditional” print all over activewear (one of my favorite lulu prints of all time was their black and white floral, which I basically bought out and wear every single week) – it looks so fresh, modern and unexpected.  Here’s hoping we get us some high-quality spandex gingham looks soon!

This next one might be a little controversial, mainly because it is difficult – nay, damn near impossible – for the fitness clothing industry to get right.  Get what right?  Get white right.  The dearth of white fitness apparel is a practical problem – white is often see-through, which in skintight clothing, just isn’t attractive.  Add to that the fact that gyms are dirty, sweaty places, where even non-white pieces are subject to skids and drips, and I “get it” that white doesn’t seem the most practical activewear hue.  That said, I love it – it looks clean, it matches everything you have (like the million pairs of black capris you have clogging up the gym-clothes drawer), it’s eye-catching amid a sea of black and neon, and it makes even the seemingly-outdated all white gym shoes look cool again. Victoria Beckham and DKNY were doing it all right in their S/S 2015 shows, where mixing textures – sheer, wool, stretchy, loose – made the white even more interesting (and yes, gym-ready).

And finally, one of the best runway-to-real life trends I keep coming back to – particularly in my gym clothing – is menswear.  Crossfit has really started bringing this back to the mainstream fit fashion world through its nearly-cultish emphasis on high socks, Converse, and muscle tees.  But what I like in the S/S shows this year is a true embracing of menswear styling with very feminine cuts.  Matching printed suits (like this awesome giant pastel gingham combo from Oscar de la Renta) could be awesome if interpreted as tank and capri sets, and bomber jackets (which are blissfully pushing through to 2015) in satin and lace are the epitome of sporty-cool to me.

I think there’s definitely room for fitness, fashion, and practicality to meet and I love to see fashion labels pushing the envelope by making sneakers and sweats as much as I love to see fitness brands like lululemon deliberately expanding into streetwear (although we all wear those pants all over town already anyway, right girls?).

Do you keep up with runway fashion?  Which trends would you like to see translated into fitness clothing?