The Dash Diet – A Thumbs Up So Far

The Dash Diet Book

I‘ve been here before and I’ll be here again. I’m trying a new diet. This time I’m giving The Dash Diet by Marla Heller, MS, RD a try. Why a diet, you ask? And why not the last diet I blogged about, The Dukan Diet, from which I had some success? Well, let me begin with the latter. While I achieved my goal with The Dukan Diet, I didn’t find the combination of foods to be appetizing. So my brain immediately turned against the idea of doing it again.

But why a diet at all? Typically, my philosophy is to eat healthy foods in moderation and exercise. Let’s face facts, things change. By things, I mean waistlines and numbers on the scale.

My Big Mistake

Allow me to share my biggest mistake which brought me to The Dash Diet. I was struggling to see movement on the scale despite bouts of good eating and solid exercise. I was frustrated and bought into the fact that women “my age” (let’s just leave it at that) experience a harder time losing weight. To that I said, “screw it” and did away with my regular weigh-ins.

There began my problem. Months after my scale boycott, I felt uncomfortable. Winter weight perhaps? My jeans were tight and I didn’t like how I looked. I dared step back on the scale and was shocked. I had reached a high that was flat out unacceptable.


I had to do something and needed a structured plan to turn things around. Without something to follow, I simply leave too much to chance and thoughtlessly overindulge.

On the recommendation from a friend, who looked amazing after having spent three months on The Dash Diet, I decided to get serious and give it a try too.

I’m about one month in and so far so good. Things are moving in the right direction, albeit slowly.

Why I like The Dash Diet

First, it originated as a plan to reduce high blood pressure. While I do not suffer from high blood pressure, it runs in my family and I have a very strong reaction to high levels of sodium. The reduced sodium in this diet does me a lot of good.

Second, I like the food on The Dash Diet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a diet and the options are limited, but what the meal plans suggest, I like. Certain kinds of cheeses are allowed, nuts and eggs are go-tos and one of the lunch options is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Sold! This was my kind of diet.



Sugar, of course, is not a friend on The Dash Diet. Is it ever? But the way the food is rationed throughout the day, I find my blood sugar is so stable that my sugar highs and lows have disappeared. My constant hunger and need to snack has subsided – all the while I feel satisfied.


While I’m still working to undo the damage of my winter hibernation, I’m most happy that The Dash Diet has given me a semblance of control again. I no longer feel wildly ravenous and have been able to make smart decisions when it comes to what I’m consuming.

Like with any diet, this one is not for everyone but summer’s coming so I thought I’d share.

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Dress to Impress Event at Dani Kaye – I’ll Be Modeling 😳

Dani Kaye floral top, shoes, handbag earrings and cuff


Join me, stylist Lysa Pelletier-Gibbs and store owner Jaime Sloan for a fun, Dress to Impress, in-store event on

Saturday, April 21st from 1-3pm


Dani Kaye Dress to Impress promo


Dani Kaye is North Andover’s newest one-stop shop for fashion. At this event, Lysa, Jaime and her team will help you select the perfect dress for any occasion. Dani Kaye’s selection of accessories, including SPANX, will help you complete your look.

Enjoy 20% off your dress this Saturday. I will be modeling looks styled by Lysa and, if you recall, I am no stranger to Lysa’s talents. Check out my own style makeover with Lysa back in January.

Dani Kaye is located at 85 Main Street, North Andover.

I hope to see you there.

Saturday, April 21st from 1-3!


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My Style Makeover with Lysa Pelletier

Lysa in all her fabulous glory! Photo by Emily O’Brien Photography


As 2017 came to a close, I felt an irresistible urge for change. Change in my home décor, my workout routine, my diet and, most desperately, my style. I feel lucky to have a friend and expert in the field of fashion who helped me with this last one. It’s not that I don’t have clothes I like, I just don’t know how to put them together in a current and cool way.

Enter my good friend and personal stylist, Lysa Pelletier. Lysa and I have known each other for about twelve years since our daughter’s attended preschool together. I was always drawn to Lysa’s bold style and hilarious sense of humor. I’ve had the good fortune to work with Lysa, be a guest on her radio show and participate in creative pursuits that nurture the artsy spirit that bonds us.

After talking about it time and again, I finally invited Lysa into my closet and my style makeover began. My big question was, why do I wear the same old things over and over when I have plenty of great clothes and shoes to choose from?

Closet Conversations

Bye, Bye, Bye

First things first, Lysa helped me lose the snooze wear and I don’t mean pajamas. Lysa helped me clear out items in my closet that were outdated and unworthy. I actually loved this part. I didn’t mind getting rid of things and every time we tossed something, I wondered why I’d held onto it for so long. “You’re better than this,” Lysa said about an old, out of style, top. I couldn’t have agreed more and out it went.

Work it

After the purge, I pulled items I should be wearing but never do. I have several pieces of clothing that never see the light of day, but are fantastic. I just struggle with how to wear them. Lysa gave me the best advice – she said, “You’ve got to make your clothes work for you.” In other words, if you have jeans or a shirt that you never wear because they’re too long, grab your scissors and cut them. If you have a top that is itchy around the neckline, try wearing another top under it.


Lysa in action! Top right, Lysa collapses on my to-go pile. Bottom left, Lysa throws on a gray crushed velvet blazer I got in Paris. She showed me how easy it is to make it look good. Bottom right, Lysa came armed with ideas and notepad to jot down items to fill in the gaps.


Back to Basics

Layering has always been a challenge for me and now I know why. I had no basics to pair with the fun jackets, sweaters and shoes I stockpile and never wear. No black turtleneck, no white T, no fitted tops. It’s no wonder I couldn’t pull any outfits together. I needed those simple pieces to tie my outfits together. Meanwhile, those pieces I never wear have their moment to shine.


The best part of my styling session was letting Lysa do her magic! In my case, Lysa brought together tops, bottoms, jackets, sweaters and shoes I never would have matched. In fact, I learned I am way too matchy-matchy and need to take more risks mixing patterns and colors. She created looks that take my style up a notch in just the way I had hoped. And all of those missing basics from my wardrobe…Lysa ran out and picked up exactly what I needed. I was thrilled!


6 looks from my style makeover
I have had the pink boots featured in two of these shots for over 10 years and never wore them. They’ve already hit the streets twice!


All about Lysa

Lysa is a photo stylist and personal stylist working with top brands including New Balance, Rue La La, Titlest and American Airlines. Check out her beautiful body of work at She is the style editor at Merrimack Valley Magazine and the hilarious host of her own talk show, Valley Girls (find them on Facebook), on Eagle


Style Makeover with Lysa

If you are interested in stepping up your style with Lysa email her at She will revamp your closet and your style in a way perfectly suited to you and your budget. Lysa is an expert at mixing high and low price points – great style doesn’t have to cost a fortune.


Thank you!

Thank you Lysa, for giving me the guidance to look at my closet in a whole new way. Before my style makeover, I never would have had the courage to purchase the wild boots (bottom right in photo collage above) that I love so much and for which I have received so many compliments.

You have inspired me to dare to be different and take the time to consider outfits that would never have occurred to me.

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Repost – My Favorite Cold Remedies for Fighting Coughs and Colds

Originally posted on December 5, 2016.

I wish I weren’t compelled to share this again, but it looks like we are in for a nasty cough and cold season. I know several folks diagnosed with flu and news reports indicate the latest vaccine was not effective in fighting the current strains.  So back to my bag of tricks with the hope of avoiding the worst of it. Do you have other suggestions to avoid getting sick this season?Cold remedies - Peppermint tea, menthol rub and shower tablets, Epsom salts and orange juice

Well, as fast as the holiday season has hit, so has cough and cold season.  We just recently had a touch of it in my house, but I know several families who’ve been hit hard.

When it comes to coughs, colds, sore throats, stuffy noses and heads, my remedy regime is ridiculously basic.  It’s not that I’m a naturalist or homeopath, I just don’t like the way most medicines make me feel.  If it’s not Advil or Tylenol, I’m hard pressed to take it.

Tony’s slightest sniffle go-to is always Nyquil. He’s Nyquil’s biggest fan and always suggests I give it a go when I’m not feeling my best.  My response is always the same, “No Thanks – that stuff makes me feel foggy.”

He doesn’t understand my reluctance and insists I’ll get a better night’s sleep. That may be true, but my issue isn’t with sleeping. It’s when I wake up and for the next 24-48 hours I feel like I’m walking in mud. Maybe I’m sensitive, but any variation of decongestant, antihistamine or cough suppressant just doesn’t sit well with me.

So what’s a girl to do when the sniffling, sneezing and stuffy head kicks in?  Here are a few of my favorite cold remedies whenever anyone in my house starts to get sick.

Draw a Warm, Salty Bath

At the very first sign of the common cold, which for me is usually a scratchy sore throat, I draw a soothing warm bath and throw in one to two cups of Epsom salts.  Friends that know me will laugh when they read this because some think I’m actually a little nutty about this remedy, but in my experience it really works.

When Ally was little, she would often suffer from nasty colds and ear infections.  Her body’s response was always a high fever. If, after a visit to the pediatrician, we were instructed to let the virus run its course, my first line of defense was to pop her into an Epsom salt bath. Within hours, her fever would break and she would soon be on the road to recovery.  It makes sense that the therapeutic salts help draw out bacteria and germs that contribute to feeling lousy.

If nothing else, the warm, salty bath is relaxing and promotes sleep just as well as Nyquil. And I don’t wake up the next day feeling hungover. Epsom salts are good for other purposes too: achy muscles – Epsom salts, skin irritation – Epsom salts, exfoliant – Epsom salts. You get the idea. Check out more ways to use Epsom salts, including crafts and gardening, from the Epsom Salt Council. Who knew Epsom salts had its own council?

Menthol Cold Remedies

If my salty solution doesn’t cure all and I’m still stuffed up, my next old school option is Vick’s VapoRub. Yes, this powerful mentholated cream, that’s been around forever, is still one of my favorite cold remedies and, weirdly, the smell I’m sure many people hate, brings up sweet memories of childhood. I’d slather this stuff all over with the hope of relieving whatever symptom was ailing me. And today, I believe it still serves its purpose having offered relief for all of those in my family who’ve used it. I’ve put it on noses, chests, feet and even just waved the jar under my little ladies’ noses to help clear out those stuffed up passages.  This is another classic that has more than just a few functions.  Check out these surprising uses.

In a similar vein, a new remedy I’ve yet to try but will as soon as the need arises, is something my kick-boxing instructor mentioned in class last week (Thanks Rory!). I ran right out to stock up.  They are menthol shower tablets. I could only find a generic brand, but these tablets work similarly to Vick’s VapoRub using the heat of the shower to release menthol infused steam into the air. Sounds perfect for opening airways and reviving a sluggish state of mind.

Drink Liquids

Finally, peppermint tea and good old orange juice are staples on my list of cold remedies. They hydrate and fortify and we all know that loading up on fluids when sick is a great way to flush out impurities. I load up on vitamin C fortified orange juice and peppermint tea because it’s bright and has its own health benefits including fever reducer, pain reliever and cough suppressant.

Of course I’m no doctor, but these simple cold remedies have helped me and my family get through countless coughs and colds without popping too many pills.

What are your best ways to get through a cough and cold?  Do you have home cold remedies that you love?
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My New Pilates Studio: Oxygen Mind + Body, Andover

Amy Cieslik owner of pilates studio Oxygen Mind + Body
Founder of Oxygen Mind + Body, Amy Cieslik, sits on a Reformer apparatus. Photo by Emily O’Brien Photography


I’m so happy to finally be writing about this. While I could’ve sung the praises of my new Pilates studio the moment I began classes back in October, I always like to give a new fitness routine some time to determine if it’s really for me.  And also, what better time to talk about new fitness ideas than at the start of a new year.

I’m happy to report that my initial positive impression of Reformer Pilates at Oxygen Mind + Body has held true and I’m as enthusiastic today as I first was.

Speaking of the beginning, let me start there. In late September, I posted about hanging up my beloved kickboxing gloves. This, without doubt, was the best decision I could’ve made. My long-term back issues have nearly disappeared.

I admit, thereafter, I was struggling to figure out my next fitness “thing.” Then, in my email inbox, came a message from Amy Cieslik, founder and studio manager of Oxygen Mind + Body in Andover, MA.

Amy saw my kickboxing post and sweetly offered a gentler solution. She suggested a Pilates Reformer class (the Reformer is a large apparatus on which these specific classes are conducted). In addition to being both a Reformer and Mat Pilates studio, Oxygen Mind + Body also offers Yoga, Barre and small group fitness classes.


Reformers set up for stationary excercise.


I was familiar with Reformer Pilates and was thrilled that Amy had reminded me of its benefits. I was open to trying something new considering my body was clearly changing, then so should my exercise routine.

No joke, I was hooked after my first session with Amy. Reformer uses pulleys and springs to control your motion and resistance on a gliding carriage. For many exercises, you lay flat on the movable carriage which is actually pretty comfortable and relaxing. The Reformer can also be set up in a variety of other ways in which you are stationary or using the tower portion of the device. There’s always something new – it’ never boring.


Reformers in use with gliding carriage and foot straps in play.


Now that several months have passed, I feel confident sharing this new experience and suggesting that you, if you haven’t already, give this fitness method a try. I have consistently attended a Friday 7:30 am Pilates Stretch class with Amy because I love it that much. Let’s just say physical activity at 7:30 in the morning is generally not my thing.

What I love about Reformer Pilates and my new Pilates studio:

  • Oxygen Mind + Body is on the ground level of Building #2 in Dundee Office Park. The intimate space is charming and inviting. The exposed pipes, brick and beams give the studio a lot of character and warmth.
  • The instructors! I can’t say enough. Well I’ve only had two, but Amy and Michelle have both been amazing. At no time do the instructors work out with you. Instead, they closely monitor the class and make hands-on corrections in an encouraging and upbeat way. Because there are many ways to configure the Reformer, instruction is always clear and specific. I am never at a loss for what to do. I look forward to going as much for the instructors as the activity.
  • The fluidity of the reformer carriage, gliding back and forth, as I use my legs or arms to create motion against the tension springs is oddly soothing. While I know this gentle resistance training is doing great things for my muscles (typically I hate any kind of weight training) I also enjoy the movement. It’s like I’m on a ride.
  • From the moment I started, I felt my muscles being used in a different, good, way. The simultaneous exertion and stretching felt right for me. I’m convinced this will help me achieve the appearance of longer, leaner legs that I’ve always dreamed of.

Two things I’ve noticed

  • I’ve long had a slight imbalance between my left and right legs. It’s barely noticeable, but sometimes I feel the tiniest bit of a limp. The day after my first session, that lopsided feeling was gone and has yet to return.
  • I’m also aware that my posture is improved. I stand taller and straighter and engage my core more naturally and often.

I’m thankful to have found a new fitness passion that is working for me and I enjoy. For the first time in a long time I crave my classes.

In the most basic of terms, it just feels good!

Oxygen Mind and Body, LLC
2 Dundee Park, Unit B01, Andover, MA 01810

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