Self Care


I went to a Korean spa this morning to get steamed, scrubbed, and kneaded to within an inch of jello—it was the only thing I could think of to do today that might help shed some of last week's skin.

I usually get my best (OK, 'best' is debatable—favorite, maybe) ideas when I'm in a taxi either going to or coming from the airport, I don't know why, I think it has something to do with the subtext of potential (leaving NY) or a renewed sense of hope (coming back to NY), but today at some point when the therapist was hurling buckets of hot water at me, I had this sudden thought from under all the horribleness of this past week/month/season/year/presidential administration and I heard these words in my head: It doesn't have to be this way.

It can get better. I don't know if it will, but it can.


Life coaching


Over Memorial Day weekend, I went on the vacation-iest vacation I've been on in years—to Turks & Caicos, on a trip organized by my friend Georgia. Georgia and I worked together, years ago, at a startup that had just launched in New York. It was short-lived (like many startups), but we stayed in touch and a couple of months ago, she got in touch and told me she'd started a travel company, planning small group trips for women who love to vacation. Well. I *love* to vacation, so this weekend I traveled with Georgia's new company MunSun Retreats to Providenciales, where we had run of a private beachfront villa for four days. It was divine. Check out what we got up to in the video below.

Not mentioned: On MunSun Retreats, you can sign up for a life coaching session. I did, and it really opened my eyes. It's one thing to turn your problems over and over in your mind, looking for a solution day in and day out, but presenting your issues and laying out all the opportunities and possibilities for solutions in front of a neutral party who's not emotionally embroiled in what you go through every single day... it was really mind-opening. In fact, for the past two days, I haven't been able to stop thinking about the visioning exercise we went through during the session, how light and unstressed I felt and how the vision I had for my professional and work life was so clear. I feel like I know the exact next steps I need to take.

New backpack who dis


Four days in Montreal at the Travel Classics conference—I never knew anything like this existed, a program that twice a year brings vetted freelancers and editors together in one place for a long weekend of ideation and collaboration. While I was in town, I didn't have much time to get out of conference mode, but I did catch a light show with the group at the Basilica downtown.


And, last minute, I got to try some of Montreal's poutine (topped with Lester's Deli smoked meat!) at the airport on my way home. Breakfast poutine:


Also made a short video about my *new Prada backpack* (throwback to the '90s!) that I'm super-excited about because I mostly bought it to carry all my work stuff to and from work—I'm walking more now, which I think is good for me since I pretty much don't move at all for the 10-12 hours a day I'm at work. I was especially impressed with the backpack today when I flew back from Montreal and managed to comfortably fit a hardcover (Edward Lee's Buttermilk Graffifi—it's great), a Macbook Air, AND six Montreal bagels in it. Magic.

Quick Trip: Chengdu and Chongqing


Three nights in Chengdu and one night in Chongqing: Glorious but not nearly enough time.

Notes:
— Flew Hainan Airlines' new direct flight from JFK to Chengdu, then back from Chongqing
— Stayed at the Temple House in Chengdu (spectacular, centrally located, walk everywhere)
— Stayed at the JW Marriott in Chongqing (spectacular, centrally located, take a cab everywhere—seriously, that city is massive)

You could probably make a four-day weekend of it, tbh, if you commit to embracing jet lag and sleeping in shifts. More than worth it.

Day 1: NYC to Chengdu



Day 2: Pandas!



I skipped vlogging on Day 3, but here's Day 4: Chengdu to Chongqing



Day 5: Last day in Chongqing

Bad at cheat days


I don't really know what was happening in the East Village at 7:30 this morning, but I was up early because today was my first cheat day of 2018. My weight has gotten a little out of control over the past couple of years so this week I started the Slow Carb Diet (from Tim Ferriss' The 4 Hour Body) and, ergo, have not had any sugar over the past five days. Ferriss recommends one full-on cheat day each week—one of the biggest reasons this diet appeals to me—so today was it.

Unfortunately, as it turns out, I am not super-good at cheat days.

Since I was really excited about finally eating refined carbs, gluten, and sugar again, at least for one wake cycle, I woke up super-early and got to Whole Foods just before 8 a.m. By 8:45 a.m. I'd already inhaled the following and felt high.

— 1 grapefruit juice
— 1 cherry apple juice
— 1 cheese danish
— 2 slices of sourdough bread, buttered
— 2 packets of Indomie Mi Goreng noodles
— 2 Tunnocks caramel wafers
— 1 mug of tea with half-and-half

I think I overdid it way too early. Bad strategy. And by lunch I still wasn't hungry. So while my family had pizza, I ate a beef patty and felt stuffed. Went home, ate a pint of grapes (fruit!), and have been so full all afternoon I couldn't eat again until now (spaghetti).

Key learnings: Need to rethink cheat day strategy for next week; blew through too much sugar and flour way too early in the morning. Could be worth focusing on one particular craving on cheat day, instead—baked goods? fruit? pasta? burgers?

Work in progress.

It's weird, I kind of can't wait to go back to eating poached eggs and lentils tomorrow morning.

Home me vs. travel me


Someone said something to me the other day that I can't stop thinking about: I wish I could be the person I am when I travel when I'm home in New York. Does that grammar make sense? I agree. Me too.

I'm lucky, I travel a fair amount—most of the time, I'll go somewhere for work and will bookend the trip with a couple of leisure days before or after. By December, I'll have been to Helsinki, Austin, Philadelphia,  Oxford, Brighton, Aspen, the Hamptons, Los Angeles, Nashville, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taiwan, and back to Oxford, this year alone.

In fact, I wish I could travel more—for so many reasons: the newness, the escapism, the being anywhere else other than at the office, the being anyone else besides my everyday self. This year, international travel has felt especially cathartic—things don't seem quite as dire abroad as they do in the States right now.

Even though I live in New York City (where lots of people from all over the world come on their vacations), I think it feels to me just like home feels like to anyone, anywhere. I grew up here, I work 14-hour days here, I commute here, I eat here—every. single. day. For decades.

Here are some disjointed thoughts I'd probably try to connect better in prose if I were writing this on someone else's platform:

Last week, fresh off a 12-hour flight, I popped over to my friend's house for a belated birthday dinner party (it was sweatpants and pizza themed—the best party theme, ever). We've known each other since we were kids, 13-year-olds, before and after the advent of internet, email, social media, iPhones, and data-driven everything. She's a research scientist and university professor, and her work couldn't be more different to the industry I work in, but we both have the same problem: too much to do. We both love our jobs, we love doing all the things associated with our jobs, but there's just too much. During our conversation I heard myself say something out loud that I've been repeating to myself for years, without ever truly actualizing: We can't control the work, but we can control our reactions.

I've been thinking a lot over the past few months about giving myself permission to let go: of stress, the onus of responsibility, emails, endless to-to lists. The most important priority in my work life is revenue and succeeding as a business. All the other "priorities" we're tasked with need to be prioritized. It's not possible to run after 25 things at once and expect to do any of those things well (or even correctly).

My energy ebbs and flows in an extreme cadence. I work very hard during the week—most days starting around 5 a.m. at my desk in front of my computer, and usually working until 6:30 or 7 p.m., or whenever I can no longer see the words on the screen in front of me. I lead a team, I make decisions every hour, I put all my creative mind power and energy into my work, collaborating with other departments in the building. On the weekends I'm a puddle. I rarely leave my apartment, I try to avoid speaking to other people, I move as little as possible, I order food delivery on Seamless, maybe I'll do some online shopping.

I wish I could be the person I am when I travel when I'm home in New York. Mostly, when I think about this idea, I think about a feeling. When I'm traveling I feel free, inspired, creative, and happy. Somehow I need to find a way to feel that way, even during those weeks I'm on the ground.

Thing I am most proud of


I've wanted to do this for years: profile families and individuals who are reshaping America, starting at the dinner table. One of the reasons that food is such a passion point for me, and why I've chosen to work in food media, is because food isn't just a physical need—it's a unifying cultural force, and I think the opportunities around humanist storytelling in food and drink—and the power those stories could have to affect real-world change—are infinite. It seems especially important, and poignant, this year, that we're able to bring First Generation Thanksgiving—which I have literally been imploring the media outlets I've worked at over the past few years to do—to life, with the generous support of our friends at Ford. This is America in 2017. You're welcome at our table.

Things I buy all the time in great quantities


This has been going on for years. Creature comforts: Glossier Milk Jelly Cleanser ($18). Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee with Lion's Mane ($14.99). Dior Diorshow Iconic Mascara ($29.50). MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation ($29). Kat Von D Tattoo Liner ($20). Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz ($21). Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Cleansing Wipes ($20 for three). Rimmel London Insta Fix & Matte Translucent Powder ($8.50). Collection Lasting Perfection Ultimate Wear Concealer ($11). Tarte Double Duty Beauty Shape Tape Contour Concealer ($23). Illy Medium Roast Ground Moka Coffee ($15). Uni-Ball Vision Elite Rollerball Pens, Micro ($10.43 for a dozen). Rose Bud Salve ($8). Shin Ramyun ($16 for 20). Colourpop Ultra Matte Lip lipstick in Saigon ($6). Ann Demeulemeester Boots ($1,000-ish). Aviator Nation Sweats ($150-ish). Terax Crema Conditioner ($78).

Inevitable New York


In my junior year of high school, I had a math teacher whose favorite restaurant was Bouley. We knew this, for sure, because he had two signature catchphrases: "Math is #1" and "Bouley is also #1." For a girl growing up in Queens, a first-generation immigrant just like the vast majority of my classmates in the 1990s, fine-dining was an alien concept we'd only ever encountered in movies, where white tablecloths either served as backdrop for comic relief (see: Pretty Woman; L.A. Story) or signaled that something was about to go down, usually involving bad guys. Which is to say, we didn't know much about fine dining at all—but we knew about Bouley, thanks to Mr. Geller.

It's hard to explain what the closure of an iconic New York City restaurant does to the psyche and culture of the city. I suspect it's not vastly different than how the closure of any established favorite affects any other city. Maybe we're all just caught up in the self-important mythology of New York, but humor me for a moment, because the past few weeks have been especially brutal. Bouley is gone, along with the 24-hour Greenwich Village haunt French Roast (b. 1993) and the always-reliable Great Jones Café (b. 1983). Recent rent hikes also mean that Union Square's noodle shop Republic (b. 1995) and Blue Water Grill (b. 1996) will close sometime in the next year.

The passage of time, nostalgia for the past, old New York vs. new New York, you've heard it all before. The city is unstoppable, and recently, just in the past year or so, I've really started to feel this weird, palpable sensation that I can only describe as inevitability. Maybe it's because I'm turning 40 later this year, everything somehow seems more significant.

#howisummer


This is the first weekend I've spent entirely in New York yet this summer! Here's what I've been up to so far this season. I kicked off the summer in Oxford over Memorial Day Weekend—it's my center-ing place, where I go to re-ground myself, read books, see films, sit in parks, eat as many breakfasts as possible, and think. (I had a hotel drama this time around—which is not something I've ever experienced before.)



I go to England a lot—and I love raiding the local drugstore for beauty products when I get over there. Here are some things I picked up on that trip (some of them you can totally get Stateside, like Simple micellar wipes, Astral moisturizing cream, Rimmel Stay Matte pressed powder, and Rimmel "Cappuccino" lip liner. Obsessed with all of these products.



Just a few days after that much-needed weekend in the UK, me and some of my team at Food & Wine headed to Colorado for the 35th Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. It was glorious and all I wanted to do was stay in Aspen forever. Here's Day One:



And Day Two:



Then back in the office for a few days before skipping town again to spend the weekend in the Hamptons (really, Sag Harbor) to celebrate the opening of the Eleven Madison Park Summer House with the good people of American Express, who invited me along for the ride.



And then I was only back in New York for four days before heading out of town for an extended Fourth of July weekend in Brighton, one of my new favorite places on Earth. It was the first time in 15 years I'd been in Brighton, and all I've been doing since is trying to figure out when I can next go back! I'm in love with that city and its vibe (and its seafood). Here's a combo vacay vlog and June favorites video. Some of the products I mention that you can pick up via Amazon Statesides: E45 Itch Relief Cream, Donna Karan Cashmere Mist deodorant, the Becca x Chrissy Teigen palette, and Embryolisse.



Finally, right after arriving back to New York from Brighton, I bopped off to Los Angeles for a week to check out the brand new Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills (obsessed, could live in that hotel, obv).



I'm on the ground now for the next few weeks, just making sure I have all my ducks in a row before fall starts (Labor Day is in, like, six weeks! Where did the summer go?), but am already in the throes of researching a long weekend destination for September and then... drumroll please... my BIG BIRTHDAY TRIP for later this year. It has to be grand/epic (or maybe I'll just go somewhere I've been before and loved, I can't decide).

The best fish sandwich


This is the best fish sandwich I've ever eaten. Smoked in a little hut right on Brighton Beach, a hot mackerel kipper on a buttered warm toasted bap—flaky, light, savory, completely unassuming. I ate the whole thing in three minutes flat. The perfect seaside sandwich.

Eat this £3.80 sandwich at Jack and Linda Mills Traditional Fish Smokers: 201 King's Road Arches, Brighton.


Things I always bring on a true vacation


Once or twice a year I try to get away on a short true vacation: at least four full days of not work-travel, not working remotely, not answering emails, not near people from work, not near people in my industry. Here are some things that I always make sure to pack:

— Only comfortable clothes (read: only things with stretch)
— Only comfortable shoes (no heels)
— One or two good books (usually 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)
— No laptop
— Good pens and paper for all the writing I will (won't) get to
— An extra bag to bring back all the shopping I'll do
— Minimal makeup (but I always overpack lipstick)
— Sunglasses for hiding from strangers
— Underwear (once I went to Paris and forgot all my underwear at home)
— At least three cameras (iPhone counts as one)
— A hoodie (which I mostly just wear at the hotel)
— Big headphones (Bose)
— Cordless headphones (Airpods)
— Corded headphones (the free ones that come with phones)
— Sweatpants (I never regret bringing sweatpants / I always regret not bringing sweatpants)

Currently I am packing The Essex Serpent and my favorite sweatpants from Aviator Nation.

See you later EMP


Twelve years ago I wrote my first book proposal at the bar table just to the left of that rose. I'd procrastinated for six weeks before my agent, the ever-patient Mel Flashman, called me on a Friday and asked, "What are you doing on Sunday? Meet me at Eleven Madison Park." We spent the afternoon drinking cocktails and talking through the 21 chapter outline. Mel took notes on a yellow legal pad and, around 7 or 8 that night when we finally left, she handed me a stack of paper with the instructions, "Type these up." That's how How Not to Look Fat was born.



Last night, EMP threw one of the best parties I've been to in years—a closing night for the iconic Madison Park location as we know it. The playlist was epic—Questlove played all the best songs from high school (read: nyc in the '90s)—the drinks were 🔥, and the kitchen was open (for roaming and eating). It was the quintessential New York City send-off for the quintessential New York City restaurant: irreplicable, unpretentious, first-rate, dead cool.




Can't wait to see what happens when the space reopens, post-renovation. In the meantime, see you all at the Hamptons iteration later this month.

A post shared by Danica Lo (@danicalo) on

The most dystopian parts of my day


1. Walking from Westfield to Brookfield on my way to work, through a long corridor with a giant LED ad that runs its entire length. It's like the Walking Dead in the morning, except everyone is much better dressed and technically alive.

2. Waiting in line at the Whole Foods in Union Square surrounded by 100 people, each with their own little individual basket filled with low-carb healthy protein free range organic eggs and unsweetened almond milk and pre-washed organic baby spinach in a box, headphones in, looking at their Facebook feed.

3. The subway during rush hour, now that it's cleaner than it was in the 90s.

4a. The notion that Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un both hold nuclear codes and...

4b. These two bozos could potentially blow this entire world into smithereens because of some perceived insult casually lobbied pre-dawn, from a resort in Florida, in under 140 characters, over Twitter.

5. That every morning I get up and coordinate a choreographed dump of my team's collective brain thoughts onto the intangible internet, and millions upon millions of anonymous strangers out there find, read, digest, use, and share the contents of our brains.

6. Everything, mostly.

Lost and found

Last fall, I was commissioned to write this piece for a mainstream women's mag website. I was paid in full for the story but it never ran, and now both commissioning editors no longer work at the media outlet, so I thought I'd publish it here.

Hed: How a 48-Hour Lululemon Immersion Made Me a Better Person, Sorta.


Over the course of this year, Lululemon has quietly launched a series of Immersions—invitation-only all-expenses-paid multi-day yoga and personal development workshops where the brand convenes a hand-picked group of influencers, athletes, corporate execs, and thought leaders in far flung locations spanning Austin, Texas; Java, Indonesia; and Moganshan National Park, located about 120 miles outside Shanghai. There hasn't been any real press on these retreats, so, to be honest, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I RSVPed "yes" to October's Immersion in Whistler (seriously, no one would tell me anything about the trip ahead of time) but I had a gut feeling that this vague and mysterious retreat would be good—or at least really weird—and that I'd definitely have something to say about it in the end.

Besides being a casual shopper and just barely following the yoga pant scandal a few years back, I had very little a priori knowledge about Lululemon. One thing I am aware of is the company's reputation for having a very specific corporate culture—"Our core values are personal responsibility, entrepreneurship, honesty, courage, connection and fun, so we attract and recruit people who share those same values," Director of Global Community Christa Hull tells me. So yes, whatever stories and mythology you may have heard about the warm, fuzzy feelings and deep devotion Lululemon inspires in its employees and community at large, well, I'm here to tell you that they're all true—and it's by design.

"At Lululemon, we prioritize our employees feeling connected to themselves and the people around them," Director of Leadership Development Susan Karda says. "Part of what we try to do is create more meaningful human connection, self-awareness, and leadership within our employees. We receive such positive feedback around our immersive experiences and summits internally that we realize it’s something that’s extremely unique to the brand."

I'd heard a lot about Lululemon brand culture—and couldn't resist the opportunity to experience it for myself—so late last month I threw all the athleisure-wear I own into a suitcase and headed up to Whistler, where over the course of 48 hours, I'm pretty sure something good happened to my insides that I still can't quite explain.
"Observe Everything. Always think for yourself. Never let other people make important decisions for you." — from Bad News by Edward St. Aubyn