Summer

Today is the first official day of Summer, the longest and one of the most magical days of the year. Summer vacation is on my mind, as I leave tomorrow for two weeks of rest and relaxation…

Today is the first official day of Summer, the longest and one of the most magical days of the year. Summer vacation is on my mind, as I leave tomorrow for two weeks of rest and relaxation…

Here are our four favorite summer destinations.

Roxane:

The island of Reunion, where I spent my honeymoon. I love islands because they usually combine hiking and the ocean in one single venue. Born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland, I have always had water (Lac Leman) and mountains close to me, making both an essential component of my well-being. On vacation, I look for the same combination with the addition of sun, heat, sand, beaches, and waves. I love to be active and hike in the middle of nature and could never spend all day lying on the beach tanning (you know, my dad’s a dermatologist…). But when it gets too hot, there is nothing like ending the day by having fun in the ocean. The true luxury for me is not having to drive hours between the hikes and the ocean but having everything close by.

Rachel:

Sailing (pretty much anywhere). I wake up every morning grateful for my life and all the beautiful places I have had the privilege to visit. Yet the one place I dream of when I think of summer vacation is a sailing boat. Whether I’m alone with my fiancé, or with my daughter, or with friends… I am never as free as on a boat. Right there, admiring the sunset or the sunrise, I feel surrounded by my version of ultimate luxury: time, beauty, and space. 

  • Time takes on a different dimension, a different meaning, on a sailing boat: it flies at a very different pace – very slowly most of the time until suddenly something happens… 
  • I feel goosebumps whenever I recall the beauty of nature. Whether you snorkel or enjoy a solitary sunrise… the beauty of what surrounds you never leaves you indifferent. 
  • Space is the third magical ingredient, just as paradoxical as that of time: the boat is small but the sea immense and its grandeur never fails to surprise you. 

The moments I have spent on a boat are amongst the fondest and most serene I have. I cannot wait to go sailing again. 

Cyrille:

Italy. When I set foot on this land so dear to my heart, I instantly feel at home as much as on vacation. I could write a whole book about the reasons why… here are just a few:

  • Fruits and vegetables actually taste like they should.
  • There is at least one beautiful Piazza adorned with flowers and a fountain in the center each village
  • By just walking around, eyes wide open, you see the equivalent of ten art and history museum collections.
  • The language is heartwarming and melodious.
  • The concept of Aperitivo is so much more than having an after work drink…

I must say I have never had an unpleasant experience in Italy. And to be totally honest, there are 3 factors that definitely work in my favor: I am half Italian and I have learned the language; I have blond hair and blue eyes (through the eyes of Italian men, it makes you feel like an angel, a queen, a jewel…); I am a “Mamma” of an adorable boy (all Italians love kids, and all mammas are greatly respected).

Me:

The Cyclades. We started going to the Cyclades when I was little, thanks to my maternal grandparents who decided to live there for a couple of years (because my grandfather was a professor of Greek language and philosophy), and to me, this remains the most magical place on Earth. The sea is salty, cold, and clear (like Roxane, I need to be near water). The island is quiet and calm, and time takes on a different meaning (like Rachel, I need a change of pace). The food is authentic and mostly from the island, grown in the gardens behind tavernas (like Cyrille, I crave the taste of fresh fruits and vegetables).  

What is your favorite summer vacation destination?

Safe Sun

My two grandmothers, one from an Italian farming family, the other from a Swiss-German pastor family, did not agree on many things. But they did agree on one thing: too dark a suntan is borderline inelegant, and a sunburn is outright offensive.

My two grandmothers, one from an Italian farming family, the other from a Swiss-German pastor family, did not agree on many things. But they did agree on one thing: too dark a suntan is borderline inelegant, and a sunburn is outright offensive. Between them and my dermatologist father, with whom I have never been in so much trouble as when I sunburn my skin, I like to think I have perfected the idea of practicing “safe sun.” While this is something to think about daily, including in the dead of winter and on rainy days, it is particularly important during vacation season, which is upon us. If you are heading to the beach, the pool, on a boat, or anywhere else where you are planning on spending most of your summer days outdoors, keep this in mind:

  1. The safest way to be in the sun is not to be in the sun. In particular in between the hours of 11 and 3 pm, stay in the shade.
  2. Use sunscreen. Even if you are planning to be in the shade all day, sunscreen is essential. A body oil with SPF 2 does not count as sunscreen… UVA and UVBs are both harmful to the skin, so make sure your sunscreen says “broad-spectrum” (the SPF value only refers to protection from UVB). Keep in mind that SPF 30, which my father recommends for “beach vacation days” will protect you from 96% of UVB. A higher SPF will increase the protection by a few percentage points only: SPF 50 will increase it to 98%, and SPF 75 to 99%.
  3. Apply sunscreen liberally. Don’t think of it as applying your moisturizer or foundation – be generous, err on too much rather than not enough. The general rule of thumb is a shot-glass worth of product for an “average-sized” body.
  4. Re-apply after every time you get in the water. There is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen; the FDA does recognize the term “water-resistant,” so look for that word when making your purchase, and reapply.
  5. Purchase new sunscreen annually, at the very least. While you may not need a new bathing suit before every summer vacation, be vigilant about the expiration dates on sunscreens. The formulations are delicate, and do break down – an expired sunscreen will not provide the protection claimed on the bottle.
  6. Remember the ears, back of the neck, and top of the feet (where I have gotten some of my worse sunburns). Apply your sunscreen before you put on your bathing suit, to avoid getting a tan right around where your bathing suit meets your skin.

There are lots of great sunscreens out there, I tend to find a new favorite one every summer. La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Nutritive Oil Comfort SPF 50+ and all Coola products are wonderful. Yet remember, no sunscreen is 100%. This means using an antioxidant product is key, both layered under your sunscreen and as a post-sun product, so that you instantly repair any free radical damage caused. Once again, there are many great antioxidant products on the market, my current favorite being the newest Alchimie Forever cream, Protective day cream SPF 23. As a first layer of protection, it is packed with antioxidants including blueberries, vitamins C and E, and edelweiss extract, and also has some chemical filters to help fight UVAs and UVBs.

Lastly, remember, you earn the skin you’re in! Protect it, and always practice “safe sun.”

Strong and Healthy is The New Sexy

While I work to be healthy and active year-round, I can’t help but pay more attention to my diet and exercise routine during the warmer months, in particular as   my annual trip to Greece approaches. So for the past six weeks, I have been particularly diligent. It’s not easy… while in my 20s I could diet for 3 days and lose 2 pounds, the reality of being 40 is quite different. I have had to develop some new strategies along the way. Here they are – may they be useful to you as well.

While I work to be healthy and active year-round, I can’t help but pay more attention to my diet and exercise routine during the warmer months, in particular as my annual trip to Greece approaches. So for the past six weeks, I have been particularly diligent. It’s not easy… while in my 20s I could diet for 3 days and lose 2 pounds, the reality of being 40 is quite different. I have had to develop some new strategies along the way. Here they are – may they be useful to you as well.

Eating and drinking

  • For much of my adult life, I have lived on bread and cheese. That is now a treat versus my usual meal – once per week max.
  • Fish and vegetables have instead become my friends… (and I’ll keep telling myself that until I believe it).
  • I enjoy wine and champagne. In the warmer months, I switch to wine spritzers and “piscines” (literally, swimming pools – also a word to describe champagne in a large red wine glass filled with ice).
  • I am forever trying to drink more water… still, sparkling, naturally flavored, with Emergen-C powder in it – anything to help!

Exercising

  • I set out my work out clothes the night before… seeing them right there helps me put them on.
  • I’m a morning work out person, so I get in my workout clothes the minute I get out of bed. It’s often the hardest part. Once I’m in them, I know I’m heading out for a run.
  • I have been taking advantage of the nice weather to run outside more. Something about the river (the Potomac in DC) and the songs of the birds is so soothing.
  • Even if I have only slept 4.5 hours (as I did last night), I remind myself that a 30-minute run will do a lot more for me than 30 minutes of extra sleep.
  • When I know I am going to need some extra help motivating, I call one of my best friends to see if she will come to SoulCycle with me. Knowing she will be there helps me make it there. (Thank you Julie!)
  • Finally, I have realized that going for a fast walk in Dumbarton Park with a BFF is just as lovely as going out for a glass of wine. My friend Isabel in particular has been a fan of this idea (which now that I think about it might have been hers!). A way to blend exercise with girlfriend time.
  • I try to walk as much as possible – for errands, around my favorite spots in Georgetown, to and from SoulCycle. Every step counts.

It’s about making healthy choices and moving. Every single day.