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New year new you

Kickstart your image resolutions with our self-improvement guide



Daniel Phoenix Singh says keeping your workout gear handy helps you squeeze in quick exercise breaks when windows of time open up unexpectedly. (Blade photo by Pete Exis; special thanks to the Maryland Youth Ballet))

Lean locals share fitness tips

After the inevitable holiday excess, many among us are bemoaning the ab definition we lost after the eggnog and peanut butter balls. But fitness topics are not esoteric — we pretty much know what to do. It’s a matter of finding the motivation to do it. That’s where little tips and tricks can come in handy.

Maintaining Herculean abs and guns can take over your life but what about all those local LGBT folks who always look fit and trim no matter when you see them? We asked a few of them to share their favorite workout and diet tips in the hope that something will click for you.

“I am not a good example for eating,” says Scott Beard, a concert pianist. “Breakfast is usually coffee. I would say the best thing is to be in a regular workout routine. Make time for it. And mix up your workouts so your body is ‘surprised’ by new exercises. Also watch the alcohol intake. A beer is like drinking a loaf of bread.”

Brian Watson of Transgender Health Empowerment was one of those lucky few who managed to stay naturally thin without working out. But he just turned 30 and decided he could use some ab definition.

“Something I think helps is that I drink a lot of water,” he says. “Whenever I eat, I have a glass of water. I think that not only has that helped keep me thin, but healthy. It eliminates a lot of the sugar, caffeine, etc., that a lot of people put in their bodies everyday. I’m also one of those people who don’t mind taking the stairs instead of the elevator.”

Clark Ray of the Greater Washington Sports Alliance believes in moderation, structure and maintenance.

“Eat what you want but be sensible,” he says. “For structure, make a schedule and stick to it. And with maintenance, you have to be persistent. Work to maintain the personal achievement you’ve made and set goals for new desires and results.”

Realtor Evan Johnson is an avid runner. He runs 3.5 miles six days per week and augments it with 30-minute weight training exercises five-to-six days per week. He says working out very early — before the sun is up — works well for him.

Ebone Bell (Capital Queer Prom) lost 42 pounds over the past six months. She was going for a “slim and healthy look,” and achieved it by sticking to a low-calorie diet (less than 2,000 calories per day), going to the gym three-to-four times per week and balancing cardio and strength training.

“And don’t sleep on Zumba,” she says. “It’s a fun way to burn a lot of calories in just an hour.”

Lesbian Anya Maleknasri is a trainer at Gold’s Gym in Manassas and has several tips. She says finding a gym near work is better than home.

“If you’re driving toward the house, you’re more likely to pass it up for the couch,” she says. “But if it’s near your work, you’ll consider it still work time.”

She also suggests organic, grass-fed meats, healthy fats, nuts, vegetables and fruit.

“Our bodies were intended to eat,” she says. “Fat does not make you fat. Processed food and sugar makes you fat.”

Also, “workouts should be short and intense,” she says. “If it’s easy, it’s probably not going to create any change. But three-to-four days of 20-30 minutes of hard work with a clean diet and you will see change in only a few days. Staying fit and healthy is not a resolution. There are no quick fixes or special pills you can take. But everyday is a new start and there is no end point. Stay realistic and change your lifestyle and your health will turn into a life-long reality.”

Josh Bennett, a singer and dancer with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington — he’s the one they always put in the scantily clad attire since he’s so buff, says getting into a healthy routine is “an entire lifestyle change.”

“You have to be ready to change your diet and to push your body to new limits,” he says. “It’s never easy but the health rewards are great. The single biggest hurdle is motivation. It’s never easy to get off the couch and put down the chips but think of an event or person whom you want to look good for and post pictures of them on your phone/TV/computer or mirror. Use that motivator as a constant reminder to clear the junk food out of your kitchen and get on your feet.”

Kevin Platte, founder and director of the eternally shirtless D.C. Cowboys, advises healthful foods in smaller amounts.

“It’s all about portion sizes,” he says. “As we get older, we don’t need to eat like we did when we were teenagers. And remember — drinking a cocktail is like eating a dessert.”

He advises a solid exercise program with a special focus on abs.

Jerry Zremski, a gay D.C.-based reporter for the Buffalo News, finds it helpful to make fitness part of a daily routine. Working out at the same time each day helps him stick to a plan. He also eats meals at regular times and doesn’t snack.

“Consider hiring a trainer if you want to add muscle,” he says. “I did and it worked, even at my advanced age, which I am not revealing.”

His other favorite tip, which works great for D.C., is — “if your destination is less than a mile away, walk.”

Gay dancer Daniel Phoenix Singh (he has his own eponymous dance company), maintains his trim physique by augmenting the workout he gets from dancing with yoga, cardio and weight training. He’s also a vegetarian.

“I watch what I put in my mouth,” he says with a sly chuckle.

“Also be ready to work out any time,” he says. “I always keep my yoga mat, workout clothes and sneakers in my car so there is never an excuse. Because believe you me, I’m just like everyone else — I’d rather spend the evening watching YouTube videos if I could find an excuse to skip working out.”


Freezing the fat

Achieve your New Year’s goal with safe, new procedure


The New Year brings many resolutions. Looking good is the first and most important one. Exercising and dieting can help, but there are some areas that won’t change, no matter how many Pilates classes you attend. The desire to look perfect can be frustrating, because you can only change so much on your own.

CoolSculpting by ZELTIQ is one of the non-invasive ways to reduce fat in targeted areas of the body that results in a natural-looking fat reduction in the areas treated. This method uses a cooling technology that targets fat cells through a process that does not harm the surrounding tissue. This procedure can reduce unwanted abdominal fat, love handles and back fat. It is performed in a dermatology office with a topical applicator that cools targeted fat cells under the skin. Only those areas targeted get fat reduction. All individuals can resume normal daily routines after the procedure. Patients may start to see changes as quickly as three weeks after their treatment, and will experience the most dramatic results after two months. The body continues to flush fat cells and will continue doing so for up to four months.

Some areas are not necessarily best suited for this freezing technique and are better handled with more immediate micro lipo-contouring procedures to remove bulges quickly. Identifying your specific needs is the most important thing, and can only be done after an evaluation. In many places, you can have a complimentary consultation with a cosmetic team. Some areas not suited for the Coolsculpting method are best treated using a tumescent lipo-contouring method.  Many of these procedures can be performed with you awake and pain free in office, with minimal to no down time. Certain areas of the chest, neck and the abdomen respond best with this treatment and offer results within the first week.

Using the newer modalities in reduction of swelling and bruising has made outpatient body contouring popular and achievable for anyone with the challenges of unwanted body fat.  Establishing a regimen best suited for your lifestyle needs with a board certified plastic surgeon is the first step toward succeeding in getting through the New Year’s resolution list. With all the newer innovative technology available, treat yourself to a procedure that can help you in your efforts to look as good as you can, quickly, effectively, and today.

In addition to getting the body you want this year, getting your skin in picture perfect condition is always right up there on the list. Smoother, softer, more even, unblemished and younger-looking skin are what people seek. There are so many things that can be done now to achieve the skin you want.

Lasers, combined with a good skin care regimen, can often solve almost any problem, or get you close to the desired result you’re looking for. Lasers can even out pigmentation, reduce redness, brighten, tighten, reduce and smooth out scarring, reduce or eliminate age spots, and much more. The most important thing when it comes to lasers it to go a dermatologist’s office, with board-certified dermatologists. Many states differ in their regulations on who can perform lasers, but you want to go to a dermatology practice if there is going to be someone performing lasers on your skin. Dermatologists see the skin differently than anyone else, and it is important for you to get someone who can look at your skin comprehensively, with an expert eye.

Dr. Khalique Zahir is with the Dermatology Center and Rockledge MedSpa with three Locations: Northwest D.C., Bethesda and Germantown. Visit or call 301-968-1200 for more information.


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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. wayneposner

    January 13, 2012 at 5:45 am

    Just found that “Get Official Samples” is promoting a wide variety of major brands by providing free samples. You’ll have to fill in your zip code to see if you can qualify to receive them. You can get all samples from one place. I think it is available for most of the zip codes and it worked for me.

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Real Estate

What to watch for during an open house

Check condition of kitchen, flooring, windows, and more



When touring a home, check out the condition of kitchen cabinets.

Anyone who knows me might say that I am detail obsessed. This has proven to be an amazing asset when looking at real estate. When I scour through listings for clients I am analyzing the photos, floor plans, and square feet of each property to ensure that everything flows properly into what my clients are looking for in their home. These items I search for also tell the tale of how recently renovated a property is, how well loved it was and a general idea of how much will be needed to make improvements and get it into the condition and aesthetic of which my clients are dreaming. When the time comes to see property in person, the fun begins and I am going to provide a few simple tips that you can use on your Sunday open house strolls that we all love to do.

The following is by no means an exhaustive list of things that I, and other individuals, keep an eye out for when touring homes, but these are perhaps the most noticeable and least controversial. Let me state here (for my lawyer warned me) I am by no means a home inspector, contractor, interior designer, etc.

The kitchen truly is the heart of the home, especially with the holidays approaching. Some obvious items to identify are the cabinets. Are they soft close or can you slam them shut in an argument and really get your point across? If they are not soft close this means that likely they are on the older side and as such most items in the kitchen are also on the older side. In the kitchen I focus mainly on items that are difficult to remove, like cabinetry and counter surfaces. Appliances, while sometimes costly, can easily be replaced due to wear and tear.

• Moving through the house I take note of windows. What material are they made out of? Are they operational or painted shut? And how many are there? This last piece is CRUCIAL. This not only comes to mind when you need to replace windows but more immediately for the purpose of window coverings — it all adds up quickly.

Flooring is next on the list. Not so much that the warm wood tones will clash with my client’s furniture, but more so the condition of the flooring and how much there is. Again, similar to the windows, coming from a place of utility and replacement. What condition is the flooring in and what type? If I’m lucky enough to find original wood floors my clients have been searching for, how many times have they been refinished and can they be refinished again? If not, then how large is the home and what’s the cost to replace the flooring. As I pointed out earlier, on behalf of my lawyer, I am not a structural engineer either. I would take note of any low points or dips in the flooring and if needed, consult an engineer to take a look at the support pieces of the home.

Moving onto electrical components. An easy thing to look for is outlets. Identify the type of outlets a home has. We are fortunate here in the DMV to have a plethora of older homes. This comes with its own set of challenges. If you see an outlet that only accepts a two-prong plug then likely the electrical system is older and will need to be upgraded. Looking at the electrical panel for the home is also a very important step. If there are two prong outlets and glass fuses in the electrical panel then this is a great time to call Chip and Joanna Gaines as this home will likely need a massive overhaul.

Again, this is in no way an exhaustive list of things to identify as you are house hunting but rather some items that I always look for and point out when advising clients with perhaps one of the most expensive and scariest purchases of their lives. These items above are not meant to condemn a home but instead identify if a home is a good fit for you based on a more in-depth look. Paint and light fixtures can be changed, similar to hair color, but it’s a bit harder to change one’s heart. Ensuring the overall structure of the home and the more expensive components are in working order and have several useful years left is paramount. 

Justin Noble is a Realtor with Sotheby’s International Realty licensed in D.C., Maryland, and Delaware for your DMV and Delaware Beach needs. Specializing in first time homebuyers, development and new construction as well as estate sales, Justin is a well versed agent, highly regarded, and provides white glove service at every price point. Reach him at 202-503-4243 or [email protected]

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Real Estate

Investing in real estate: What you need to know

From REITs to flips, tips for getting started



In many cases, buying or selling a home is a very personal experience. Many people buy a home with the intention of living there – making memories, building a family, becoming part of a community. The same is true of sellers. Selling a home, in many cases, is simultaneously difficult and exciting – it means the ending of one chapter and the beginning of another. While the majority of buying and selling experiences may be personal – increasingly, others in the market are interested in real estate not just to find a home, but also to make a great investment.

In our current market, it’s easy to see why real estate can often end up being quite a profitable investment. In 2021, sellers often saw huge profits on the sale of real estate – but even in years where profits aren’t quite as significant as this year, real estate has often proven to be a sound and reliable long-term investment strategy. Real estate investments can add diversification to your portfolio, and a very successful venture, particularly if you buy and sell when the circumstances are right.

Over the last several years, many gay neighborhoods around the country have shown steady appreciation, leading investors, and particularly LGBTQ investors, to consider whether the time is right to consider adding real estate to their investment portfolio. For those considering real estate as an investment strategy, here are a few helpful tips:

• Consider REITs: For those just getting started with real estate investment, Real Estate Investment Trusts, or “REITs” for short, might be a good option. These provide the opportunity to invest in real estate without owning the physical real estate yourself. They are often compared to mutual funds, and you invest in a company, a REIT, which owns commercial real estate like office buildings, apartments, hotels, and retail spaces. Generally, REITs pay high dividends, which make them a popular investment in retirement, as well as for investors not wanting to own one particular piece of property.

• Consider investing in rental properties: Rental income can often be a steady, reliable source of income if you do your due diligence researching the property itself, the surrounding neighborhood, and the potential community of renters. While maintaining a rental property will certainly require some investment of time and energy on your part, it can be a profitable long-term investment and one that is appealing to many people.

• Put your skills to work: If you have a skill set that includes being able to renovate and upgrade homes – or if you know a trusted person or team of people who does, flipping a home that could use some renovation can be quite a profitable investment indeed. Getting a home that could use some extra TLC at a good price and updating it can result in a sales price that is significantly higher than the purchase price. This can certainly be a very good investment – and a fulfilling project too.

• Be willing to listen and learn: When trying something new, it is almost always helpful to talk to those with experience in that area. Investing in real estate is no different. Having a mentor who can give you some tips and advice from their own experience is invaluable.

• Get to know the neighborhood: When making any real estate decision, whether you’re going to live in a home yourself or purchase property for investment purposes, knowing the neighborhood and community you’re interested in is important. A key part of that will be finding a real estate agent who knows and loves the community that you’re interested in, and who understands the market in that area. This can make all the difference between a smooth and successful process, and a stressful one.

(At, we are dedicated to our mission of connecting LGBTQ home buyers and sellers with talented, knowledgeable, and experienced real estate agents across the country who can help them to achieve their real estate goals. Whether you’re interested in buying or selling a home that you live in personally, or buying and selling for investment purposes, we can connect you with an agent who knows and loves the community, and who can help you achieve your goals. Contact us at any time. We look forward to helping you soon.)

Jeff Hammerberg is founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates, Inc. Reach him at
303-378-5526 or [email protected].

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Bistro du Jour transports you from Wharf to Seine

New casually sophisticated restaurant a welcoming, inclusive space



The owners of Bistro du Jour say, ‘Our restaurants are intended to be welcoming to all guests of all backgrounds, beliefs and demographics.’ (Photo by Rey Lopez courtesy Bistro du Jour)

Delights run morning to night at The Wharf’s new Bistro du Jour, a casually sophisticated French outpost sliding into a prime waterfront space.

Courtesy of gay-owned KNEAD Hospitality + Design, this new restaurant flaunts a menu born from a Seine-side bistro, serving coffee in the morning hours to Champagne in the evening. Its all-day culinary oeuvre begins with coffee (from La Colombe) and omelettes, and ends with items like a towering and meaty bi-patty cheeseburger L’Americain.

Taking over the sweet spot vacated by Dolcezza, Bistro du Jour is a sister to Mi Vida and The Grill, KNEAD group’s two other Southwest waterfront locales. The group also runs several other formal and large-format restaurants they have populated across the city.

Why bring French to the Wharf?

“We have been here for almost four years and we knew what the area was missing and acted on it,” says one of the co-owners, Jason Berry. “We wanted something where people could come in at all hours of the day and find something they wanted, from coffee and pastry to a full-on sit down at night.”

The Bistro opens at 7:30 a.m. serving that local La Colombe coffee, plus flaky, buttery pastries from KNEAD’s partner Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery. Breakfast service starts at 8 a.m. with brioche doughnuts, quiches, a “massive” Belgian waffle, and French toast topped with a blueberry compote and sweetened whipped cream.

Executive Chef Treveen Dove – transferred after three years at another KNEAD spot, Succotash Prime) – oversees the offerings, a tour of the “greatest hits” of a typical Parisian bistro.

“Oeufs Sur Le Plat is to die for, with the griddled buttered bread topped with a sunny side up egg, sautéed mushrooms and a Mornay sauce… It’s so rich and delicious.”

By 11 a.m., the Bistro transitions to other traditional French fare, like French onion soup, tuna Niçoise salad, steak frites, mussels in a white wine and garlic butter, and a croque madame sandwich dripping with gruyere and creamy Bechamel. One unique offering is whipped brown butter with radishes and crostinis. There are also gougeres, warm cheese puffs shot through with gruyere.

Come 4 p.m., the dinner menu fills out even more, with additional dinner items confit de canard (duck leg with green lentils and red wine shallots); and a robust, earthy coq au vin (braised chicken with bacon, mushrooms and mashed potatoes); and a lamb shepherd’s pie with mashed potatoes that would be at home on a French Alps farm.

Due to space limitations, the Bistro lacks a sit-down bar. Yet beverage director Darlin Kulla, who has been a part of the KNEAD family for more than four years, has put together a focused menu of six craft cocktails. You’ll find not only a French 75 (gin, lemon verbena, lemon, bubbles), but also a Manhattan and a “Champs Elysees” with cognac, chartreuse, lemon, and bitters.

The bar itself carries only one brand of each liquor: one gin, rum, and vodka. “ If you want vodka, you’re having Grey Goose,” notes Reg with a smile.

Given the cuisine, there is a considerable French wine list topping 60 bottles, leaning heavily on Champagne and sparkling wine. There are almost 20 red, white, rose, and Champagne options by the glass and carafe, as well. The bar rounds out its stock with French aperitifs and bottled beer.

Notably, the majority of the restaurant’s seating is situated on the building’s exterior, in a newly constructed all-season patio enclosure with almost 70 seats. The owners designed the space to maximize waterfront views, capacity, and flexibility. During warmer days, the Potomac breeze is welcome to flutter around coffee-sippers; in the colder months, the windows roll down for a fully enclosed and conditioned space. The patio’s banquettes arrived directly from France, and twinkling strung lights sway from the ceiling.

The interior is done up in Mediterranean greens, pinks, and creams. Big windows welcome in daytime natural light, but allow for a dim, mood-lit atmosphere in the evening. Traditional bentwood bistro chairs dot the space and antique-style tin tiles reflect a classic Parisian flair. Over at the bar, the glassware display was created from a single panel of antiqued brass. At the rear, a daytime counter offers coffee, pastries, and drinks.

As Bistro du Jour’s owners are both gay men, they note that, “Our restaurants are intended to be welcoming to all guests of all backgrounds, beliefs and demographics. We cater to everyone, which is the only way to lead a hospitality organization.”

“When you’re part of a minority group in society,” they say, “the only way to lead your restaurants is as inclusive, welcoming, and hospitable leaders.”

Though smaller than their other ventures, a French bistro right on the teeming, pedestrian-heavy Wharf “was the perfect fit,” they say. 

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