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21 Feb, 2014

An Interview with the Amazing Health and Beauty Guru Calgary Avansino

From assistant to Alexandra Shulman to executive fashion and digital project director, Calgary Avansino knows a thing or two about health and beauty. We caught up with her to discuss avocado, workouts and her Mum's oatmeal cookies.


Thank you so much for talking to us. We are very excited to find out some of your health guru tips! Firstly, can you just run us through your daily routine?

I aim to wake up at 6am at least three days a week to get a solid hour of work done while my world is completely quiet. It’s amazing how much I whizz through in that hour. Before sitting down at my computer though I have a dose of liquid probiotics followed by a large glass of warm (not hot) water with a whole squeezed lemon and ginger. Around 7am I prep breakfast for my family: green smoothies, porridge, bircher muesli, chia seed puddings – whatever we are having that day. Pack any lunches and snacks that need to be prepared and then wake up my kids. After the school run I usually try to respond to some emails before working out. My ideal time to work out is 11am but that never happens so I try to work out around 8:30/9am 5 days a week. Sometimes I will go to a pilates, barre or spin class; sometimes I do intervals or sometimes I will meet a trainer to be put through my paces. If I have a breakfast meeting then I will try to work out around 5pm before heading home. The rest of my day varies but is always jam packed with work for Vogue, freelance and my own brand.

When did you first decide to lead such a healthy life?

I was raised vegetarian by very health conscious parents who taught me from an early age that food can be powerful fuel both physically and emotionally if you choose the right things to put in your body. So it’s something that has always been a part of my life in one way or another but I would say in the past ten years I have really found my ideal lifestyle: plant-based, full of good grains and good fats, low in sugar, wheat and gluten – but always flexitarian so when I crave eggs I have them. It’s so important to listen to what your body needs.

What is your advice on snacking?

I believe in “smart snacking”. I don’t think it’s realistic for most busy people to make it from meal to meal without feeling peckish and if you give yourself a healthy pick me up like nuts or an apple or some chopped veggies with hummous you are less likely to be tempted by something sweet or processed when your blood sugar starts to drop. Be prepared, keep smart snacks in your car, your desk and your purse!

You have to eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Very tough decision between avocados and coconuts…….

Is there anything you ban from your diet?

I try not to be as strict as that – if we obsess about certain things I think we end up wanting them more. But in general I don’t eat processed food, sugar laden food or red meat. I basically try to eat real, whole foods as much as possible and avoid things that come in packages! I always eat three meals a day plus snacks and I try to make each one as nutrient dense and delicious as possible.

What’s your favorite place to buy ingredients/snacks/foods in London?

I love shopping at farmers markets so you know exactly where the food is coming from and what they put on it in terms of pesticides etc. Plus it supports local farmers. I do that on the weekend but during the week I get a delivery every Tuesday from Abel & Cole; I go every few weeks to Whole Foods to stock up and I often pop into Revital, The Good Life and Roots & Bulbs for healthy juices and snacks in the meantime.

What is your advice to people that don’t have time to exercise?

Make time! If you want to feel better, look better and feel more relaxed you have to prioritise moving your body. Try doing a class at lunch that doesn’t make you sweat too much, meet a friend after work at the gym or join a running club that will miss you if you no-show. If you have time to meet someone for a drink or push your snooze button three times you have time to workout. Even if you don’t have time to get to a class or the gym there are endless options of exercise routines you can do at home in the comfort of your sitting room – no excuses. Try a Tracy Anderson video, download classes from BarreCore, Ballet Beautiful, or Sleek Technique on your computer and get moving. And if all else fails do jumping jacks and burpees while listening to music for 15 minutes straight. That’s better than nothing and a great way to get your heart rate up and boost your metabolism. Everyone has time – you don’t always need a full hour - you just have to make it an important part of your life. I always look at my diary on Sunday nights and figure out where I am going to fit exercise into the jigsaw puzzle of the week ahead.

How do you get over your “I just want to eat a big piece of cake and sit on the sofa” days?

I have two busy kids so I haven’t had one of those days since my first daughter was born eight years ago! But if I did it wouldn’t be cake for me it would my mom’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, which I adore.

Any advice for people wanting to get into the magazine world?

Gain as much experience as you can in a variety of “fashion” jobs. Work at a store, work at a PR agency, work at a sales agency, work at a designer’s studio – the more you know about how the whole fashion industry functions the better off you will be. And once you get a magazine internship, work as hard as you possibly can. Never be too grand for any chore – you’ll learn from every one in some way or another. Take it from me, I started as an intern at Vogue 13 years ago and worked my way up from there.

What do you love most about your job?

Two things - My boss Alexandra Shulman who has supported and believed in me for the past 13 years and the incredible platform I have to speak about the ideas I believe in.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

When I was working in Vogue’s beauty department as Wellbeing Editor about 8 years ago, Anna Marie Solowij, the Beauty Director, taught me such an important lesson - to always wait, take a breath and then wait some more before ever responding to an email which has upset or frustrated you. Never immediately respond – you’ll always regret it. Since then I have always given it an hour and thought through my response before typing.

The other most invaluable advice I have received is to bravely voice what you believe. Speak from the heart with authenticity and sincerity and don’t worry if people disagree. You can’t please everyone, nor should you try. Follow your truth, always...