Wellness has never been more fashionable.
But Vogue contributing editor and lifestyle guru Calgary Avansino has always been ahead of the curve – whizzing up green smoothies before most of us had figured out how to say “quinoa”.
With a lifetime of healthy living under her belt (she was raised by marathon runner parents and spent her childhood picking seasonal veg from the garden), her website, Instagram feed and Twitter profile provide daily inspiration on how to live better.
We spoke to her about healthy eating, fitness and the importance of switching off.
For Calgary, a sugar-rich diet is the devil’s work. Instead she (and her children) opt for a vegetable-rich green smoothie or chia seed breakfast pudding to start the day.
“It’s important to remember that food is fuel to power the day,” she says. And so choosing slow-energy releasing foods such as avocado, nuts and superfoods for breakfast is key. “The last thing you want to do is get on the blood sugar roller coaster first thing in the morning,” she says.
Throughout the day she keeps good energy-filled snacks on hand, such as a bag of soaked almonds, to stay energised and alert.
But, beyond the superfoods, even Calgary has her guilty pleasures. Kind of.
“I just love cheese – feta cheese or Swiss cheese are my favourites,” she says. “I make a meal with cheese in it at least two or three times a week.”
In order to make healthy lifestyle sustainable, the key is not to be too strict with yourself. “If you can’t function without a brownie every few days, then have one,” she says. “Just don’t eat one every day!”
But one dietary vice she’s unable to tolerate is alcohol. While not averse to a glass of wine every now and again, she’s troubled by the amount people consume and the motivation behind it.
“On special occasions drinking alcohol is fine, but as a bandaid to cope with life it isn’t effective,” she says. “It’s full of sugar, high in calories and – if consumed in high quantities – it’s a depressant. It affects your sleep too.”
Unlike most of us who plan to go to the gym only to make an excuse at last minute or accidentaly “forget”, Calgary always makes time to exercise.
“At the beginning of each week, I look at my diary to find out where I can work out. Whether in the morning or at lunch, I slot my work out in like a meeting – and once it’s in, I never cancel,” she says.
She does two classes per week – one PIlates or ballet barre-style class and an interval class “that really pushes me out of my comfort zone” – and then she usually runs on the weekend.
It’s important, she says, to vary fitness regimes to make sure we continue to push ourselves. “When we do the same things, our bodies go on autopilot and our bodies don’t find something challenging,” she says. “You have to surprise your body to get the results you need. When you are learning something new it’s hard on your brain and your body.”
But for Calgary, exercise isn’t about being “thin”. It’s about self-esteem and health.
“Healthy living is about feeling good and having energy. These tools help you cope with busy job and big life changes, such as becoming a mum. Suddenly I had to fit ten times the amount of stuff in the same amount of time, and feeling positive about yourself becomes invaluable.”
“Usually when someone is fit they are happy with their body,” she says. “They have achieved goals, grown stronger, and worked harder. And the endorphins released will boost mood.
“To think about fitness in terms of weight loss is very short term, instead we need to aim for a long, healthy, energetic and vibrant life – and that has everything to do with being fit.”
Calgary believes that her commitment to wellness has been vital to her career success. During fashion week or around project deadlines, she has always striven to remain calm
“I try to introduce as much calm to my day as possible,” she reveals. “That could be walking to meetings, listening to chant music or simply taking five minutes to close my eyes and focus on my centre.”
It’s important not to bring work stress out of the office. “I don’t want to be a lioness when I get home, but arrive in a more centred place in my body and mind.”
She has a strict no phone policy when she’s at home with her family. “Once you take the temptation away and then you won’t be tempted,” she says. “I try to eat with my kids in the evening and just chat.”
Calgary is so well-versed in serenity that she’s even able to keep a (relatively) cool head during fashion week. “It’s tough, but the key is planning ahead,” she says. “For example, I make sure to pack my bag ahead of time with food that I want, all of my chargers, etc. So that you’re not in flux when don’t have something that you need.”
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Calgary Avansino is working with Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts to explore how modern day values have evolved our perceptions of success. Find out more about the Crowne Plaza Evaluating Success report and check out Calgary’s top tips for success by visiting crowneplaza.com/youfirst. Follow Calgary Avansino on Twitter via @CalgaryAvansino.