Julie Rath: Your Guide to Stylish Ski Attire

You want the latest when it comes to skis and other equipment, but do you look the part when it comes to your ski clothes?

Man's style: what to wear skiingEven if you’re not arriving via helicopter (à la Fiat Group founder Gianni Agnelli), there are plenty of ways to stay stylish on the slopes.

If you look like the Michelin Man when you ski, it’s likely you haven’t rethought your attire since the late 90′s. Fortunately, along with advancements in skis, poles and other gear, there’s a lot new in the style department with plenty of excellent options that serve both form and function. Ski-wear designers have been heavily influenced by the more fitted cuts on the runways. And new fabric technologies allow for close fits that still provide warmth and flexibility. Bottom line: you can project a flattering physique on the slopes while staying warm and maintaining mobility.

When dressing for the slopes, you should wear a baselayer, midlayer, insulating layer, and coat or shell. Below are my suggestions within each category, plus accessories.

Baselayer
A baselayer is skin tight (or close to), thin- to medium-weight, and synthetic or wool. For wool, try brands like Ibex and Icebreaker. And for a high-performance synthetic, check out X-Bionic products, which are moisture-wicking, anti-bacterial, and designed to optimize circulation. All three brands even make boxer shorts. (Better safe than sorry.)

Men's image consultant: what to wear skiingMidlayer
A midlayer is a sweater, fleece or thicker base layer like a turtleneck. Dale Norway (above left) makes very sharp-looking ski sweaters. And for something sportier, check out the half-zip options from Kjus (above right).

Insulating Layer
This is a thin, light down jacket worn beneath your shell (note: this layer is not always needed in non-frigid temps and/or if your winter jacket is very warm; it can also be a vest as opposed to having full sleeves). I like Kjus for this, along with Peak Performance.

Men's Personal Shopper: Ski Clothes

Pants
For heavy-duty insulated pants, try Peak Performance’s Supreme Aosta. They’re highly wind- and waterproof and also have ankle guards, which is good if you ski with your ankles together (most intermediate or advanced skiers do). A good-looking lighter-weight option with more stretch and ankle reinforcement is Frauenschuh’s Alex pant.

Men's Personal Shopper: what to wear skiing

Parka
For your outermost top layer, you can’t go wrong with a Canada Goose duck-down parka (above left). If you’re not a fan of logos, Moorer (above right) makes absolutely gorgeous, luxurious (and splurgy) parkas that sacrifice nothing in terms of protection from the elements.

Gloves or Mittens
Black Diamond is by the far the highest-ranking winter company for accessories by outdoor enthusiasts. These mittens are warm in sub-zero temps, are fully waterproof, and have removal liners, which is great because you can use them on warmer days without the liners. Liners are key also if you’re skiing multiple days because you can dry and/or wash them more easily. For gloves, if you’re really popular, these are integrated with Bluetooth technology and a vibration alarm for incoming calls.

Socks
A single layer is best because it preserves the “micro climate” between your foot and boot, circulating air and keeping your feet warm. Go with 100% wool. DarnTough is great quality and has a lifetime guarantee.

Scarf
You can’t go wrong with one of these in a color that coordinates with the rest of your gear.

Men's Personal Shopper: what to wear skiingHat
Wear a beanie like this one above under your helmet.

Face Mask
In very cold weather, it’s nice to have something that goes over your face, like this face mask or buff. If you wear one of these, you may not need a scarf.

Goggles
Smith I/O Recon goggles have a micro-optics display where you can view your speed, real-time jump analytics, weather and buddy tracking, GPS mapping, and even a music playlist mode.

A note on combining: don’t go nuts mixing too many colors. If you wear a pop of color like bright red or orange, have it be on either top or bottom, with the remaining colors in the look neutral and coordinating with one another.

PSA: make sure to wear sunblock when skiing. The sun reflects off the snow onto your face, so you need to take extra precaution. I like Armada Sport 70 for all outdoor activities.

Are you ready to hit the slopes in style? I’d love to hear what you’ll be wearing – let me know in the comments below. And if you’re more about hot chocolate than black diamonds, stay tuned for an upcoming post on one of my favorite activities to style: après-ski.

Josh Bowen: Keeping Kids Active

joshA friend of mine, who is an elementary school teacher, told me that her kids are only alloted 15 minutes of recess a day. Often times the teachers are under such scrutiny to hit certain test scores that PE and recess are both put on the back burner. If the school systems would only take a look at several studies that show the more active a child (or adult for that matter) is the better their mind works to absorb vital information. So by limiting and abolishing recess and PE we are doing a disservice to our youth. We have to take matters into our own hands to keep our kids moving and active. These strategies are not revolutionary but they are helpful. Here we go!

Promote Activity

Not exercise- Huh? Yeah! Promotion of exercise and workouts are going to get your kids hyped up to go to the gym or even ride their bikes. They may not be ready for “exercise” but they will more than enjoy activity. This keeps the young mind that loses interest quickly, on task and having fun. I suggest the following:

Active Play

Ditch the video games and play catch, hide and go seek, Simon says and twister. Go old school, take it back to when you were a kid and you played hide and go seek for hours. Remember how much fun that was? I can’t tell you the last time I heard a kid talking about hide and seek, they would rather play Halo. Halo ain’t got nothing on hide and go seek (forgive me, I am from Kentucky)!

Try an Active Party

In the summer time throw a party for your kids at the batting cages or in the winter a bowling party would fit the bill. Old school mentality but activity nonetheless. This may inspire your young ones to pick a sport or find a hobby, all of which is great!

Give them a Choice

Yes, they should be consulted with these decisions. A ten year old is not going to do something they do not want to do. So back door them, get them to pretend it was their idea and watch what happens!

Limit Screen Time

A surefire way to increase your child’s activity level is to limit the number of hours he or she spends in front of a screen — including television, video games and online activities. For example, you might consider a limit of one or two hours a day and, for a better night’s sleep, no screen time in the hour before bed. To make it easier, don’t put a television in your child’s bedroom, don’t watch television while you’re eating dinner, and restrict computers and other electronic gadgets to a family area. Also consider limiting other sedentary activities, such as text messaging or chatting on the phone.

If your child plays video games, opt for those that require movement. Activity-oriented video games — such as dance video games and video games that use a player’s physical movements to control what happens on the screen — boost a child’s calorie-burning power. In a Mayo Clinic study, kids who traded sedentary screen time for active screen time more than doubled their energy expenditure.

Walk the Walk

Here is the most important one. If this is not in play, the rest do not matter. You must back up what you preach. Children with active parents are far and away to be more active. It is that simple. You can’t go tell your child to go play outside and be active, if you are sitting on your rear end doing nothing. The facts hurt but they are true. We are at fault for the lack of activity our youth gets. Not technology, not our school system (well maybe they get some blame) but us.

I do not have children so many of you can point that out and say I have no idea what I am talking about. And your argument may be valid. However I have trained children as young as 11. It was honestly one of the best experiences of my career. I sought out to spark a young mind to value activity, not just exercise. Exercise is just the tool.

Wonder how much physical activity is enough? Consider these guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services:

Children and adolescents age 6 and older need at least an hour a day of physical activity. Most of the hour should be either moderate or vigorous aerobic activity. In addition, children should participate in muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities at least three days a week. Many classic activities — such as playing on playground equipment and jumping rope — cover all the bases at once.

So there you have it, a game plan for establishing activity and play in our youth. This is important, more important than most realize. The quality of life of the next generation depends on the current generation. Let’s do our jobs and inspire, motivate and build a healthier future for our kids.

Here is a young, active kid from Lexington, KY (with hair!) Just a kid with a dream of being a personal trainer!

Lauren Mayer: Everything Old Is New Again

Retro is in!  The fun of nostalgia is that we can romanticize the aspects we liked (e.g. Downton Abbey’s fabulous costumes and Maggie Smith’s great lines) while ignoring those we wouldn’t really want to resume (servants with no lives of their own, no antibiotics or disposable diapers, etc.).  So it was only fitting that the controversy around Bill O’Reilly’s exaggerations erupted the week before Downton Abbey’s Season 5 finale.   Here’s my tribute to the 1920s/commentary on O’Reilly’s reaction (which was, shall we say, just a tad different from Brian Williams’), and it’s up to you if you want to consider it as also being a commentary on the age of O’Reilly’s target audience.

Erica and Matt Chua: March Forth!

March fourth is a very important day, not only because it’s my birthday, but it is the only day that is a command.  It is the calendar issuing you a challenge to march forth, step out of your comfort zone and try something new. As I get older the more I take this advice to heart as it is important to remember how frustrating and rewarding it is to learn something new.

When is the last time you learned something completely new? Below is my account of attempting to surf in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka.  A short story to remind my aging self that “old dogs can learn new tricks.”  And, hopefully inspires you to never lose that urge to try something new.

Fighting tears of pain and frustration after yet another wipe out on my surf board, I scanned the water to see if anyone had noticed my attempt at catching the wave.  Exhausted and uninterested in paddling out to try and catch the next wave, I struggled to shore with my surfboard.  Sitting on the beach surveying other beginners attempting to stand up on their boards I felt a little bit better about my efforts.  However, it didn’t change the fact that learning something new is as tough as it is rewarding.

This was just the beginning of the learning something new epiphany that  I had in Arugam Bay in Sri Lanka.   Each morning when we woke up and headed to the beach to surf I was excited to attempt to walk on water.  Even after many failed attempts, bumps and bruises I was filled with hope that tomorrow would be my day.  Each break through and little triumph made me smile, while each setback taught me something new about my technique.

As I struggled to carry the surf board effortlessly under my arm, like so many of the seasoned boarders walking on the beach I fully realized how much harder it was than it looks.  The reality is that I’m not going to become a surfer dude (or in this case dudette) overnight, or possibly ever. But the benefit of learning to surf went far beyond clearing my sinuses with plenty of salt water, acquiring a new skill builds confidence, creativity and to put it nicely is a very humbling experience.

Do you want to be more confident, inspiring and adaptable?   Do you wish you could surf, cook gourmet meals or speak another language?  Well, what if I told you all of these things are possible by simply putting your energy into learning new things.  Why did this post turn into an infomercial?  Because I really believe in the power of getting out of your comfort zone and gaining a new skill, so I want to sell you on the idea.  The benefits are endless.

So, today, on the only day of the year that is a command I dare you to move beyond the things you know and learn something new. Be open to the possibilities in your life and explore new opportunities.  Take the calendar’s challenge and March Forth!

Erica and Matt Chua: A Day on the Farm

“Escape from the bustling city for a day;” the brochure boasted and while I can’t say that the laid back city of Chiang Mai was getting to me a day out of any city sounded like heaven.  The Thai Farm Cooking School is located only 17 km out of Chiang Mai, Thailand but the cool country  breeze and fresh scents were a very welcome break from hot traffic and smelly exhaust.  The morning began with a trip to the local market with a guide to explain the ingredients that go into a typical Thai dish.  I had my notebook ready to take notes and plenty of questions from my previous market visits.  I was happy to find the guide spoke excellent English and was happy to answer my myriad of questions.  Once we had picked up all the necessary ingredients for the six dishes we would be preparing we headed out to the farm.

Upon arrival on the seven acre organic farm we entered the magical world of 1,000 trees as the residents refer to it.  We were given a detailed tour of all the herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables that are grown organically at the farm and had the opportunity to taste each fresh ingredient.  I found that I really enjoy long beans and that Thai coriander is basically a strong cilantro.  With all of the items from the market and then the fresh picked veggies and herbs from the farm we were ready to cook.

The setting for our prep work was a picturesque gazebo over a lily pad pond offering a vista of the whole farm.  If I could do all my kitchen prep in this type of setting I wouldn’t even mind how much I cry when chopping onions.  We each had a mortar and pestle along with a cutting board and knife for making fresh green, red or yellow curry paste.  I chose to make green curry as that’s my favorite, but once you learn the technique the only difference is the ingredients.  The technique we were told takes lots of muscle and should be loud.  We each took this advice to heart as the cacophony of mortar against pestle filled the air.

With the curry paste made the majority of our prep work was done, so we preceded to the spacious well-equipped kitchen.  We each had our own cooking station with plenty of elbow room. ” Cook” our appropriately named Thai teacher began to demonstrate our first dish of curry with chicken, a delicious curry soup with coconut milk.  The soup came together effortlessly and quickly by simply chopping up some pumpkin, chicken and onions then bringing it all to a boil with coconut milk.  With the soup done we started on Tom Yam with shrimps where we really perfected the art of blending sweet, spicy and bitter flavors.  If it’s too spicy add more sugar, if it’s too sweet add more salt and if it tastes bitter add more chili, sugar and salt.  We had just one more dish before lunch and that was chicken with cashew nuts.

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Erica and Matt Chua: A Day on the Farm

Saul Kaplan: Plight of Young Males

I am proud of my bona fides on supporting the advancement of women. It angers me to think how slow executive suites and boardrooms are to welcome more qualified females. Stubborn gender wage gaps for comparable work are unacceptable and must be closed.

However, with all of the attention and focus on supporting equal opportunities for women, we have taken our eyes off an alarming trend. Young men in the US are in trouble by any measure of educational attainment. It’s a big deal and, for reasons of political correctness, we aren’t talking enough about this growing national problem.

I refuse to believe the support of young American’s progress is a zero-sum game – that somehow if we call attention to the problem and take a different approach to improve the experience and outcomes of boys it would come at the expense of celebrating and enabling continued advancement of girls. We can and must recognize the unique challenges of young men and we had better start doing something about it now.

Have you taken a stroll on a college campus recently? Where have the men gone? In the latest census, males comprise 51% of the total US population between the ages of 18-24. Yet, just over 40% of today’s college students are men. In fact, in each year since 1982, more American women than men have received bachelor’s degrees. Over the last decade two million more women graduated from college than men. And the gap continues to grow. Michael Thompson, author ofRaising Cain, a great book on the plight of young males, illustrates the path we are going down with a startling extrapolation. He notes that if today’s trends continue unaltered, the last young man in the US to get a college degree will do so in 2068. Scary stuff.

Saul KaplanThe gender achievement gap is astounding. The average 11th grade boy writes at the level of the average 8th grade girl. Men are significantly underperforming women. According to a recent NBC news report, women dominate high school honor rolls and now make up more than 70% of class valedictorians.

Again, I am happy to see women succeeding. But can we really afford for our country’s young men to fall so far behind? A growing education attainment gap has profound consequences for the economy.

It mattered far less during the industrial era when young men in this country could find good high-wage jobs in the manufacturing sector without a college degree or post-secondary credential. In a post-industrial economy, the social contract has changed. The deal used to be that college was only for a narrow segment of our population. Everyone else willing to work hard could make enough money to raise a family and achieve the American dream of owning a home, without higher education. With the disappearance of those industrial era jobs, the rug got pulled out from under that assumption. We replaced it with a new social contract by which a college degree, or at least some form of post-secondary credential, was a necessity for anyone hoping to make a decent living. The numbers on this are clear. According to census data, annual earnings for high-school dropouts average $18,900; for high-school graduates, $25,900; for college graduates, $45,400. Add up those numbers over a lifetime and the importance of education comes into focus.

And that’s if there is a job at all. Take a look at how hard the current recession has hit men. Of the jobs lost over the last four years 78% of them were held by men. That leaves 20% of working age men out of work. These jobs are not coming back and men are ill prepared for the 21st century workplace.

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Saul Kaplan: Plight of Young Males

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