Secret to a flat belly

By Elle

Talking about diet isn’t entirely related to fashion, but it falls into the periphery, and since I stumbled upon an immensely helpful approach to losing weight (or maintaining a healthy weight), I thought I should share it with you.

As a 40-year vegetarian (who’s now mostly vegan), I’ve not struggled terribly with weight, but once I hit my 50s, I noticed I was sprouting a little meno pot, a pesky pot belly that mushrooms once you hit menopause and that no amount of planks will faze. Ugh.

My lifetime approach to maintaining a healthy weight has always revolved around simply leading a healthy lifestyle. I don’t diet. I never have. Diet, to me, is a four-letter word. But, of course, one can eat healthy foods and still gain weight if the quantity is off.

So I managed my weight with a calories in/calories out equation. I view my calories in/calories out much the same way I manage my household budget, just replacing the idea of dollars with calories. For example, I have a daily budget of 1,200 calories. Once I reach that amount, I stop eating. Of course, monitoring calories is difficult and you often have to rely on guesstimation — and that naturally equates to underestimation — which is why I keep my daily budget low, at 1,200. I know there are days that I definitely exceed that number. But for essentially all my life, this approach has worked just fine.

Until the arrival of meno pot.

Because I work in healthcare, I’m hyper aware of (and hyper interested in) the connection between lifestyle choices, wellness and chronic disease. I work with amazing people who are on the forefront of wellness and lifestyle medicine, and it was through their work that I first heard about the benefits of intermittent fasting. Aha!

I started intermittent fasting about six weeks ago, and I am seeing the results. Here’s my technique: During the week, I eat only between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., giving me an eight-hour window to eat.  If I’m not hungry at 10 a.m., I wait until I am hungry, usually by 11 a.m. or so. On weekends, my eating window narrows by two hours, opening at noon and closing at 6 p.m.  I’m strict about the hours because, just like calories in/calories out, I know there will be times — dinner with friends, usually — when my window will need to stay open longer. So whenever I can control my eating window, I do.

Within the parameters of intermittent fasting, I still follow my calories in/calories out approach. Obviously, if you scarf down a plate of pancakes, a large pizza, a sheet cake and three pies within a six-hour window, you will not see positive results!

There are many ways to intermittent fast. Some people eat only every other day. Others fast for a few days and eat for a few days. I think using the daily window approach is an easy way to start, and you can build from there if you wish.

From what I understand, intermittent fasting burns fat, improves insulin resistance and increases longevity. Read more about it in this article from Cleveland Clinic.

Another benefit of intermittent fasting is that it’s easier on your digestive system. Giving your system a break for 16 hours or more allows it to rest and recover from the hard work of digesting food. If you have digestive issues, intermittent fasting may help you.

Here’s another tip I learned from Dr. Michael Roizen, which you can find in his new book What to Eat When: A Strategic Plan to Improve Your Health and Life Through Food: eat your carbs before 2 p.m.  Definitely good advice that I’m trying to follow.

Now, with all that said, I just discovered that Mama Santa’s restaurant in Little Italy now offers their drop-dead delicious pizza with a gluten-free crust (I’m gluten-free). I was there the other day with one of my granddaughters, enjoying a plate of G-F pasta (yes, after 2 p.m. but before 6 p.m.!), when I commented that I was waiting for them to make gluten-free pizza. The gentleman looked at me with surprise and said, “We do!
We use a gluten-free artisan bread, and it’s really good!”

I’m pretty sure I squealed with delight. I thought about ordering an onion pizza to go, but knew that I would eat a slice or two on the way home — you have to enjoy it while it’s still hot and who could resist Mama Santa’s onion pizza anyway. Instead, I said, “OK, I’ll be back soon.”

Two days later, true to my word, I picked up my G-F onion pizza (light cheese, since they don’t offer vegan cheese — yet) and ate half of it immediately, enjoying every single savory bite.

I’m not sure how Mama Santa’s onion pizzas are going to affect my new, flatter belly, but I do know that I’ll probably be picking one up weekly, at least for awhile.

Thanks for reading, and I hope this information helps you. If you are interested in intermittent fasting, be sure to read up on it because (1) I’m not an expert and (2) it’s not right for everyone (e.g., diabetics, pregnant/nursing women).

I have to run — my noontime window is open!



Be Parisian for a Day

By Abby and Elle

Abby and Elle Upstairs FashionInterested in a fun morning of French beauty with complimentary makeovers and mimosas? (We don’t know about you, but a mimosa rivals a hot cup of strong coffee as our favorite morning pick-me-up!)

A makeup artist will be on hand to offer makeup tips and tricks. And if that weren’t enough, you’ll leave with a swag bag of goodies.

This free event is sponsored by Votre Vu, the French skin care company.

Tickets are limited. If you’re interested in attending, register here.

Saturday, Oct. 12
9:30-11:30 a.m.
Crowne Plaza Cleveland South
5300 Rockside Road, Independence

They had us at mimosas. Hope to see you there!

How Beautiful Are You?

By Abby and Elle

Greetings, Little Pretties! You know, here at Abby & Elle we naturally focus a lot on how we look (duh, fashion blog), and occasionally we feel a little self-conscious about that.

The main message we try to send is that the better you look, the better/more confident you’ll feel. And who doesn’t need that? But we try to focus on those things you can control: Make sure you sport a great haircut, be kind to your skin, maintain good posture and dress well. Oh, and smile! To us, those are the elements of beauty.

We know, however, that many of us don’t love how we look, or we’re critical of every feature — those things we often can’t control, at least not without the help of a scalpel. Our nose is too big, thighs are too chunky, lips too thin, and so on.

Think right now for a moment about how you see yourself. How beautiful are you? And then watch this.

Continue reading

Love What Someone Else is Wearing?

By Abby and Elle


Why not pay them a compliment! Research shows that receiving a compliment stimulates the same part of the brain that gets excited about receiving money, which most of us can agree feels pretty dang good. Paying a compliment can make you feel just as great because it means you have healthy self esteem to notice something good about someone else. And having healthy self esteem makes you feel good and look good, which will in turn attract compliments in return!

‘Course you shouldn’t just compliment someone willy-nilly. Be sincere. The best compliments are specific — and even better if you offer a reason why. For example, you might tell someone, “I love that shirt. The neckline really complements the shape of your face.”

Paying a compliment will make you feel like a million bucks. And it will make the receiver feel like you’ve shared your million.

PS from Elle: Guess what, everyone? Soon we’ll be covering some maternity fashions because Abby is expecting her first baby!

Walkin’ Tall & Lookin’ Good

By Elle

When I was a kid, my mom was forever yanking on my shoulders from behind and scolding me: “Pull your shoulders back!” I guess I had the worst posture ever, bent forward like a tiny candy cane. I think it took years (I recall a fair amount of shoulder pulling), but I eventually straightened up.

Pilates equipment

Pilates equipment

Turns out mom was right. Good posture helps you look strong and healthy. And clothes fit best when you have good posture.

So how does one get good posture? Well, if you don’t have a mom to regularly yank your shoulders back, you can borrow mine. (Don’t whine at me later though.)

You might make an effort to keep straight and long by pretending a string is being pulled through your spine and up through the top of your head, essentially straightening you like a marionette.

Or you can consider taking up Pilates. This workout is designed to help you build a strong core, and a strong core helps you walk tall and look fabulous. It also helps prevent low back issues (theoretically, in my experience), helps you breathe properly and helps you look slimmer.

I love Pilates, and I love my mom. Thanks, Mom.