Monday, April 29, 2013

Dairy: decrease or desist?

From Refinery29 article, link below
I was recently consulted for a Refinery29 article “No Whey: What Milk Really Does To Your Bod”. Dairy baffles many people that I thought I would review the dairy details.

Dairy Hierarchy
Not all dairy is the same. In any food category whether it’s carbs or soy sometimes you can tolerate or benefit from certain types versus others.  You probably know I’m anti skim milk; non-skim, fermented, organic dairy is very different from conventional, skimmed, subpar stuff. It’s important to be discriminatory with your dairy.
Fermented dairy is easier to digest and fermented foods can benefit you well beyond your immune system. Unlike Vegas, what happens in your gut doesn’t stay in your gut and probiotic foods have far reaching effects from your weight to your mood.
Additionally, goat and sheep dairy is often better tolerated. Anti dairy folks often point out that it’s unnatural for us to drink another animal’s milk.  In the case of goat and sheep’s milk it’s actually most similar to human breast milk in its makeup (I can’t decide if knowing this makes it more or less appealing). While lactose slightly lower in goat or sheep versus cow it’s really the casein content that makes the difference. Furthermore there are higher levels of MCTs (same type of fats in coconut milk) in goat and sheep versus cow milk. There’s a great sheep’s milk company called Old Chatham. Their ginger yogurt is amazing.
And unless you find antibiotics, added hormones and inferior nutrition appealing…if nothing else all dairy you purchase should be organic. You can make the argument that you can wash (not that this makes it pesticide free) an apple; you can’t wash your yogurt. A study on 3rd graders in another country showed their hormone levels soared after a month on US, conventional milk, enough said.

Pro Dairy
A case can be made that dairy helps with PMS symptoms (do you recall the California Milk Board’s ad geared toward men “living with PMS”? oy those caused a little bit of a backlash). Full fat dairy is associated with less fat around the waist or midsection, decreased likelihood of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. This is due to a fatty acid called palmitoleic. I expect we’ll be hearing more about this. And men who strength train may be able to get more muscular with dairy in their diets.

Dairy Drawbacks
If you look up the important research from Dr Davaasambu (what a name), you will see studies linking milk consumption to a host of cancers. The proposed reasoning is that cows are being milked more days per year, often when pregnant when levels of certain hormones are higher.
In terms of digestion, while many point to lactose as a source of tummy troubles, there’s another potential covert culprit and that’s casein. Casein is a protein in milk (I mentioned it earlier with sheep/goat dairy) that many people, especially those who have problems with gluten, do not do well with.
If a client presents with sinus symptoms and allergies or certain skin conditions, I consider advising them to experiment with ditching dairy.
Bones When it comes to bone health, if you’re only keyed in on calcium you’re missing the “bone” boat. We need calcium but it doesn’t have to come from dairy think about sardines, greens and beans. Having enough Vitamin D seems to be way more important than supplementing calcium. Additionally there’s magnesium sort of a sly player in the osteoporosis game.
There are a host of “alternative” milks from almond to cashew to coconut and nut milk is very easy to make (and delicious).If you choose to purchase nut milk make sure there’s no carrageenan in the ingredient list. In NYC, OMilk makes fantastic small-batch nut milks in fun flavors.
I think it’s important to think about your diet, your goals and consider whether you need dairy and how much; there’s certainly no need to overload on it.  It’s no coincidence that as I googled dairy MyPlate and Dairy Counsels etc. came up. There’s this conventional “wisdom” or belief that we need lots of dairy to be a healthy and further that we should look for fat free and low fat sources. I would challenge both of those ideas. And our ability to digest dairy decreases with age so what worked at 20 may not at 50, reassess.
Do you eat dairy? How much and which types? Have you considered decreasing or desisting?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I can get you to like sardines

Special Sardine Salad, see below

Three whopping years ago, I attempted to like sardines. I psyched myself up and tried them and even concluded, “I would give sardines a second date.” I must apologize to sardines because I didn’t revisit them. I felt I had faced a food fear and frankly fear and eating aren’t two things I enjoy at the same time. I have total respect for sardines, their impressive omega 3 content, low mercury and B vitamin offerings. Maybe the initial timing wasn't right. More recently, I got together with some friends to cook and one of the recipes was a sardine salad. It wasn’t just a run of the mill green salad with sardines but baby arugula with orange and fennel, other delicious additions and sardines. We were in good hands with chef and author Myra Kornfield who I have known and worshipped for years.

We all loved the special sardine salad but joked that we didn’t whip out the mandolin for our weekday lunches. Was there a way to enjoy sardines simply? Myra digested the challenge and then scurried around the kitchen. “Have you tried sardines mashed with avocado?” My fear was instantly extinguished, replaced with curiosity. “You can also do this with mackerel.” My food phobias were getting crossed off the list at rapid speed. Myra combined the sardines with avocado, juice from ½ lemon and some good quality salt. It wasn’t just fine; it was delicious.

Sardine Mash
1 tin of Vital Choice Sardines, no need to use oil that remains in can
½ ripe avocado, cubed
juice from ½ lemon
few pinches Himalayan or Celtic salt

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, mash with a fork. Eat as is or over greens.

I ordered both sardines and mackerel from Vital Choice. Full disclosure, when I made my own “mash” I wimped out and used only ½ tin with ½ avocado. Once I ate them in my own home, without sardine support and still liked them, ding dong sardine-o-phobia is gone. 
Have you tried sardines or mackerel? How do you prepare them? Any foods you want to like because of nutritional value but don't? 

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Best Things Come in No Packages

Today is Earth Day. Did you know that? To be honest, I didn’t know it was today until we looked it up as we sent our newsletter Going “Light” Green. I know my kids’ birthdays, my anniversary (though don’t quiz Marc) and all other key dates. Does it say something I that Earth Day isn’t one of those?
It’s daunting to really think about what we need to do just to stall the worrisome changes that are all around us with the weather, our oceans etc. In our house, we’ve changed out our light bulbs, turn off lights and try to reduce, reuse and recycle; however, we also drive an SUV (non hybrid), sometimes leave the water running while doing dishes and toss unread catalogs by the dozen. I look at our recycling bin and feel we could do better even if I’m never going to be the composting type.
When it comes to household waste between 30 and 40 percent is food packaging. We came up with "light green" as a way to do more even if 100% green feels impossible, here’s what you can do:

Plastic Water Bottles- On Inspiration Green I love when “What Happens to Your Plastic Water Bottles?” was answered with “nothing”. Eighty percent of bottled water is just thrown away and the small percentage that isn’t has such a slow decay rate most of it still exists. If vanity has a greater pull on you (whatever it takes) endocrine disruptors called “obesogens” lurk in many plastics and can affect your weight.  I’ve mentioned Takeya glass bottles before, I also like Lifefactory and if you want to borrow a mason jar, I have plenty. I take juices and smoothies to work in these. Whether you’re going to work or work out, BYOBottle. And don’t try that “freebie” mentality, the planet doesn't care if your spin studio or office gives the bottles away for free.

From water to straws, 500 million plastic straws are used per day. I keep a Strawsome glass straw in my makeup case, we have them at work and at home. There are also pretty stainless steel varieties. No use drinking from a glass and using a plastic straw. Plus, obesogens? Just reminding you.

Takeout containers are an environmental nightmare. The first order of light green business is to take out less. Those take out containers made from polystyrene (aka Styrofoam) take 500 years to decompose. Plus, they’re lightweight making them an easy marine pollutant. Seamless Web has a green option. With one click you can say “no thank you” to extra napkins, utensils and condiments. Do the same whenever you order.

And how about reusing the “reusable bags”? I have them stashed in purses, in the car and in the kids’ backpacks (in case we stop on our way home from school, good to have my Sherpas in tow). Many stores (Foodtrainers included) will extend a slight discount when you bring back your bag. If the future of the planet or vanity doesn’t get you, perhaps you can appeal to your inner cheapskate.

In addition to take out containers, what about the coffee cups? For Earth Day, no coffee cups (I didn’t say no coffee) make your own home brew.  Stainless steel mugs are so good that the contents stay hot for hours. If you buy just 1 take out coffee a day, each workday that’s over 250 cups and probably 500 dollars a year.

Snacks –I’ll point out that I know I recommend “packaged” snacks to clients and here on the blog. Whether it’s a nutrition bar or a healthy chip there’s convenience and portion control that comes with these single serve items. However, for your weight and your light greenness, packaged snacks should be the exception. Buy nuts, seeds (don’t forget seeds) and dried fruit in the bulk bins and if need be make your “single servings” yourself. Our clients use our handy Nutcase, at home we like Graze reusable snack bags or We Care recycled paper bags. Let’s not forget that fruits and vegetables are the best no packaged snacks around. Avocado with lime and sea salt anyone?

And while part of this message is to purchase (from bulk bins, better water bottles or foods that don’t come in packages) light green also means using what you have. I guarantee if I came over to your house we could make a full meal from your pantry and fridge. Jess (from Keeping it Real) and I had a fun exchange about some of our pantry “antiques” but it’s nice to make your way through items you already have. Take the fun Chopped-esque challenge and let me know how it goes.

I may not be No Impact Woman but if I can lean into light green, you can too. Review the tips above and plan 1 day with no packaged food. It’ll show you that light green is doable. Tweet me at #golightgreen or snap photos of your mini-green successes. 
What shade of green are you? Where could you improve (anything from points above)? Would a no packaged food day be difficult for you?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Boston and Sparkling Ice

Sitting at my desk Monday, I scrambled to contact clients and friends in Boston. I tried to calculate who had likely finished before the horrific bombing and hoped everyone was ok. I texted a friend and prayed that with a day off from school she and her kids were not near that finish line. I didn’t hear back. Were they somehow there or were they unaffected and back to life as usual? Oh what the victims would do for life as usual.

Yesterday, I received this:
First of all I suck for not texting you back, cell service was junk last night. All OK, thanks for checking in. On a lighter note, ran into Stop and Shop this morning. I know gross but needed paper towels etc. On my way in noticed display of Sparkling Ice flavored seltzer advertised “natural flavor” on front. Grabbed two and as I was going through checkout read ingredients-lots of crap incl yellow #6, 7.  I told the troll at checkout I was not going to take them. She incredulously asks “why? they are soooo good” Told her I am not that into food color.  She proceeds to rip me a new one. I also had 2 Chobanis, she starts reading the ingredients and mocking me she says, “this has locust bean gum, better watch out for those locusts.” 

Let’s see who’ll win this battle at the register:

Somehow I envision the rude register person has to have bad make-up
Sparkling Ice
I already knew Sparkling Ice’s dirty little secrets as I had looked into as mom at school told me buying it by cases (and no. for better or for worse I didn’t circle back and tell her she was chugging carcinogens). You are much better off drinking seltzer, Herbal Water or good old water. This is one of those wolves in sheep’s clothing.

The site has images of fruit inside of ice cubes and it’s zero calories! Contains antioxidants! And uses natural flavors!  What could be bad? Well a lot.
Carbonated Mountain Spring Water, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Natural Flavors, Citric Acid, Potassium Benzoate (to Ensure Freshness), Gum Arabic, Sucralose, Green Tea Extract, Ester Gum, Yellow 5, Biotin 1% Trit. (Maltodextrin), Niacinamide (B3), D-Calcium Pantothenate (B5), Vitamin B12 0.1% (Mannitol), Vitamin D3, Pyridoxine HCl (B6), Blue 1.
I want to thank Sparkling Ice for making me laugh. In this gathering of nasty sweeteners, mutagenic dyes and decorative vitamins it’s always good to have potassium benzoate “to ensure freshness”.  But why only parentheses for that ingredient, we could have fun indicating why they're all there.
So well done Bostonian, this product should stay at Stop and Shop.

Locust Bean Gum
To be fair, what about locust bean gum?  Did Stop and Shop bossy pants have a point? Is my friend eating bugs? Thankfully there are no locusts in locust gum it’s made from carob tree. It’s a thickener often used as a fat replacer. While the skeptic in me would say this doesn’t need to be there, a little fat is good when it comes to dairy I would mainline the stuff versus sipping Sparkling Ice.

It felt good to laugh and I’m grateful that I’m able to; I realize for the families’ affected will be some time before any lightness returns.
What do you think of the exchange above? Was it the cashier’s place to comment on the Sparkling Ice? Have you seen/tried Sparkling Ice? Have you been fooled by a healthy sounding product? How carefully do you read ingredients?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Are Rail Thin Models a Problem?

Friday, on Facebook, a friend posted this ad from the JC Penny circular. This particular image comes from the company Joe Fresh. Her comment “jumping off the page is a young girl whose legs look like someone from a concentration camp. I AM APPALLED THAT COMPANIES ARE ADVERTISING WITH MODELS OF THIS SIZE. It sends an unhealthy message to our girls.”

My initial reaction was that she let the company know. As popular as shock value is, I cannot imagine that was Joe Fresh’s intention in their efforts to sell jeans. Throughout the day, as I thought more about this, my opinion changed and I reposted.  “While these women are super skinny, I wonder why we harp only on the weight of models sending the wrong message. What about the fact that they are gorgeous-er than us? These are not meant to be average women any more than an NHL star in an SI add is an average athlete, hmn.” Sure, being a professional athlete isn’t a dangerous aspiration but it’s still unrealistic. Yes, I like it when ads are relatable but a teenage, rail-thin, wrinkle less model isn’t relatable for more reasons than weight.

Someone else added:
Imagine if they were obese. Would we be irate? Probably not. We might be confused or surprised but not irate. And we should be because [and yes, I just watched Weight of the Nation] that is an equally unhealthy message to send to our kids.
We are undoubtedly influenced by the media; this has been confirmed by research. Images can stoke insecurity. I just don’t believe media messages “give” us eating disorders anymore than they give us obesity. Do I like a Coke commercial? No, I would much rather a “water” commercial. Fortunately, though many discussions, my kids now know all about soda, the awful ingredients and intentions via advertising to make us want to buy it. 

Eating disorders are yucky, scary and complicated. “Thinspiration” exits but it’s only one of dangerous arenas luring children. When I have sessions with eating disordered clients we spend way more time talking about their families and their friends, comments others make and emotional triggers than we do ads. I recently read the children are more receptive to conversations about weight and health when teenagers dole out the advice. I see that as a way to make inroads in this conversation with young people about body image and the media, about what's realistic and about what isn't. 

And there’s the other “modeling”, are we modeling healthy eating habits, positive self talk and balance to our daughters and sons? Are we asking them about print ads, billboards and commercials? The newspaper circular can be a teaching tool. Which photos do you like? What do young people see when they look at the image above (and others)? If they were making it or "the boss" would they change anything? And these questions are equally important for male and female children. Boys need to know that these girls above are not "average". We need to control what we can control because whether it’s a fast food commercial or a stick thin model, the images are here to stay.
What do you think about the ad above and others like it? What do you think is the answer to all of this?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Five Pounds

Image via the tech savvy Carolyn Brown

I have a deep side. I worry about important things (they will come to me soon) but like my shadow, my “shallow” is always with me.. For most women a few pounds in either direction can make a difference, more of a difference than it should. I am convinced that these weight shifts are noted whether you're in college or in Congress There’s the positive side of this, a few days of clean eating can result in feeling lighter and de-pooched, improved. The downside is that a couple extra pounds can do the opposite.

What five pounds means to me:
Top of the Range (or my range) the real danger zone.  As a slim, 5’3” person my top number may not be high but trust me I am not feeling good. I could find myself here in winter or when I’m hormonal or a little sloppy. I know the world will not come to an end (from this anyway) but at a "5" I'm thinking about what to wear a lot more, I'm not tucking in and may feel lovehandle-y. I think much more about my weight when feeling off my game than I do when all is good.

Three pound below, mid range, is where I spend most of my time. This is what is referred to as UBW or my usual body weight. This weight has not changed since I went through puberty. I am generally fine here but it all depends on the quality of workouts, hydration and how organized my diet is. I can be totally fine or just “fine”.

"1.5 "
I’m under my UBW for important events, when I cleanse or when I really go into the full court “weight”press. I know as well as anyone that I don’t always stay here; drastic doesn’t last.

Below this 5-pound range takes grief, a potent stomach bug or a bikini (and a bikini around other people not just my family). Here I feel I can conquer the world, which is so wrong but hey is a couple of pounds shed hurting anyone?

We all have our weight numbers and some have larger ranges than others but there’s still the danger zone, an "ok" place and bathing suit weight as evidence that a few pounds can make a big difference (at least for me). 
How much does your weight change or swing? Can you feel the difference in a couple of pounds? Does it bother you if it does (meaning does it bother you that a small shift affects you)? 

Monday, April 8, 2013

You Should Drink Coffee and The Best Coffee to Drink

Bulletproof coffee photo via, keep forgetting to take my own
Saturday,  while getting a haircut, I flipped through a magazine. I wouldn’t suggest this diversion as a lot of cutting occurred as I read probably because I was annoyed with a certain article. Asked for her opinion of the Paleo diet an expert quoted offered “it’s never good to remove a whole category of food” a sentiment already filed in my collection of worthless diet advice. I’m not against category slashing. If there’s a reason to give up gluten or dairy or sugar that leaves you feeling better with improved digestion or more energy, breakups are fine. If you tell me you’re swearing off soda or icky sweeteners, cold cereal and “faux” whole wheat bread, I’m going to cheer you on versus hold you back. But if you tell me you’re giving up coffee, I’m going to ask why?

There is no problem with coffee, there’s a problem with too much coffee (over 2 cups) or what you put in your coffee. For example, that skim milk and Splenda should be at the top of your nutritional worry list. I’m not here to say “coffee in moderation is OK”. If you read regularly you know I’m not a fan of feeling “OK” or the useless word moderation. I’m here to say coffee can make you healthier.

Coffee may reduce your risk of type 2 Diabetes. With Parkinson’s, it lowers chances of both the disease and with some related movement symptoms as well. Coffee reduces the incidence of certain cancers such as bladder and kidney and impacts Alzheimer’s disease. Coffee is a well-established exercise helper or ergogenic aid. In fact, because tolerance increases I have athletes cut back (not cut out!) caffeine in the week leading up to an event so that they get the maximum effect on race day, sneaky. Interestingly coffee also affects GI flora. And Let’s not forget those Ikarians with the enviable life spans. “The Secret May Be in the Coffee

There are a few coffee considerations. First, your cup of coffee (and maybe your second) should be consumed by lunchtime or right after. I don’t want to boost your health and disrupt your sleep. Even if you think “caffeine doesn’t bother you” it may affect the quality of your sleep. Speaking of quality, all coffee isn’t the same. Choose organic coffee (coffee is a pesticidey crop) and be careful not to brew it using bleached coffee filters.Yes you can roast your own coffee, there are only so many DIY projects I can handle so I don't roast but chime in if you do.

I’ve been a splash of grass-fed, organic half and half, in my coffee girl for some time.  During a twitter chat, someone suggested coconut oil in coffee. Soon after this mention I was fielding questions about  "Bulletproof Coffee" from clients. This concept is now all over the blogosphere. I was intrigued as I had never heard of it but also curious that this mixture combines two foods that conventional wisdom tells us are bad butter! and coffee.

Bulletproof Coffee was developed by Dave Asprey, an entrepreneur who has lost a tremendous amount of weight and was greatly affected by a cup of “butter tea” he had while traveling.  Dr Weil actually wrote that butter in teas has long history and via Google I learned butter is used in coffee in Ethiopia and parts of India. The Bulletproof recipe calls for MCT oil and unsalted butter blended with coffee. I thought this sounded weird and frankly vile until I realized butter is made from cream. Bulletproof coffee is said to increase alertness, more than black coffee, to keep hunger at bay until lunchtime and to urge the body to use fat for fuel.

I tried this with coconut oil (coconut oil contains MCTs or medium chain triglycerides) as I like the coconutty taste and Kerrygold unsalted butter. I used 1tsp of each for starters blended with 1 mug’s worth of coffee.  Asprey calls for more butter (1Tbs) and oil (1-2 Tbs) but "digestively" I would work your way up. You combine the butter, oil and freshly brewed coffee in a blender for approximately 10 seconds. I have experimented with a sprinkle of cinnamon and cardamom as well. You can stir the ingredients in your coffee, skipping the blending step, but it doesn’t incorporate well. When you blend it it froths up. Think of it as a coffee breakfast smoothie.

If you’re wondering how this works, coconut oil helps your body utilize fat for fuel, it’s also a natural immune booster. Grass fed butter is much higher in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which was a popular supplement a couple years back. CLA also helps reduce body fat, specifically abdominal fat. If you combine these two ingredients with coffee you have something that’s potentially life changing and “weight changing” as well. And if nothing else, it’s distracting me from my haircut.
Are you a coffee drinker? Have you ever tried to give up coffee? Why? Have you heard of Bulletproof coffee? Or encountered buttered tea or coffee in your travels?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

You want an airline ticket? Step on the scale.

When I go to the store and buy wild salmon, the fishmonger weighs the salmon and affixes a price tag based on how much I buy. The same per pound system goes for apples, potatoes and nuts from the bulk bins. I’m not thrilled about it but when traveling, our ginormous black wedding registry (pre bags on scales) bags get weighed as well and this often results in a surcharge. However, if I want salmon and produce and travel, the scale is a prerequisite. Samoa Airlines is taking this one step further. What’s used for Tumi and tangerines is also used for people of all sizes; they’ve started charging based on weight. Passengers weight + baggage weight = price.

There’s a silver lining if you look for one. Kids would be less. Instead of a 2 year old being charged the same as a 200-pound adult male, they would benefit from being smaller and lighter (as long as they don’t charge based on noise level or decibels). And hey, if you’re dropping weight for a beach vacation, you now have a financial incentive. Weigh less pay less? I’m not sure if this would impact initial efforts to lose weight just for the sake of airfare.

In Samoa’s defense, Samoans are large- often the largest people on earth and this airline, to date, flies small planes. Cargo weight does matter. Military planes take weight into consideration. But most people aren’t Samoan, soldiers or excited for public weighing. Not that we’re happy about whipping out the credit card because you happen to have heavy ski boots (or more likely too many shoes with you). I don’t like removing my shoes for the security like but I do it, but that’s for “security” is getting on the scale the same?

This may work for a small airline. I get their stance that planes fly based on “cargo” weight not based on seats. I get that people are getting larger. But what happens when someone gets to the airport and cannot afford their ticket based on their size? Would companies pick smaller employees to do more travel if it saves them money? Would people be willing to do this hopping on the scale pre-flight?

Lots of questions and for now mostly hypothetical but interesting. It doesn’t seem right  nor does the person seated in front of me reclining in my lap or breaching their armrest boarder. On our recent trip, a child in front of us was using an ipad. The parents hadn’t contemplated the mute button or headphones. I politely asked them to lower it. You know what happened? The kid freaked out. I’m not sure telling a person “politely” to pay triple for their ticket would have a better outcome.
What do you think? Is this, as the head of Samoan airlines said “the future”? Can you see this working? What are the advantages or disadvantages?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Lena Dunham and The Beauty Experiment

Many more "girls" look like this than any Victoria's Secret model

I don’t read Playboy, I’m not informed enough to know whether people do “read” Playboy but I read an interview they did with Lena Dunham. In this piece, she is asked what she would do if she woke up in the body of a Victoria Secret model.  Lena mentions she’d be freaked out I don’t want to go through life wondering if people are talking to me because I have a big rack. Not being the babest person in the world creates a nice barrier.” As I read, part of me admired how grounded she sounded but a much larger part of me thought yeah right and I wouldn’t want to have a house on the beach in Hawaii, what would happen if there was a storm? This was all before I had ever seen a single episode of Girls. Let me be honest, this was before I binged on HBO on demand’s first two seasons of Girls.

Have you seen the show? I know I was late to the party; Girls follows a group of 20-something friends living in Brooklyn. As much as I hate using the word, it feels like an “honest” glimpse off dating, work, friendship and all the messiness involved with finding your way. The characters are quirky, the main character Hannah is played by Dunham who also directs the show. Dunham is often undressed. There’s nothing unique about that except for Dunham’s seeming total lack of self-consciousness about her body. In one episode, Duhnam plays ping pong in her underwear in the way a young child would before they realize clothes are worn for certain activities.

Let’s be clear, Dunham’s body is very average. This is not the busty, bronzed, groomed and posed world of Victoria’s Secret. This is basic underwear, lumps and bumps, the things we all tend to cover up. I work with women all day long and I could not figure out where such a lack of body angst comes from. After all if you create a show, you can decide when and how often you disrobe.

While away last week, I read The Beauty Experiment. The book’s author Phoebe Baker Hyde was living in Hong Kong with her husband and young daughter. She felt she was overly distracted by the trappings of appearance. For one year she goes on a beauty fast foregoing makeup, buying new clothes, paying for haircuts, hair removal- you name it. The premise was if she was fixated on her looks, what else was she missing?  In some manner, when Hyde frees up time previously spent on makeup application and shopping she feels liberated. In other ways, new insecurities flourish with a bad haircut, old clothes and no “concealer”. At one point in the book when Phoebe shares the concept of her experiment with friends, one friend replies “you’re not one of those women”.  While she may not have ever been covered in jewels and decked out every day when it comes to that critique or as Hyde calls it “The Voice” most of us are “those women.” Whether it’s appearance, parenting or related to our professions, we can relate to Hyde’s frustration  “the distance between me and the person I needed to become seemed insurmountable”. As with Dunham, in The Beauty Experiment I saw something real, something most of us don’t share that much or aren’t proud of.

I was disheartened while reading a scene when Hyde looks through teenage pictures of herself and laments that her boyfriend-less, chubby 16 year old self and her 30-something self are in many ways the same. I would hope that The Voice is softened, at least a little, with age. This week, we were away in Mexico. I’ve mentioned it before but Mexico was the first vacation I took with my then boyfriend and now longtime husband Marc. At one point in the trip, Marc joked “oh my god do you remember yourself then?” How could I forget, I ran laps around  “the trail” the size of a tennis court because I was losing my mind without a gym and changed multiple times before getting dressed to go out. Almost 20 years later, I remember my blue bathing suit and bad beach hair but cannot name the hotel we stayed in. 
Why did he marry me?

  Last night, as we sat with the boys enjoying our last guacamole of the trip and a not-so-Santana-ish mariachi Oye Como Va a young and lithe college-aged woman jogged past our table.  On a street full of restaurants, she stuck out like a sore thumb. “What- she just has to get in a workout before going out” Marc observed. There’s hope for the Mexico jogger. While we had an active trip, I didn’t go to the gym the whole time. I may never be a “Lena” but “The Voice” is very different than it was in college.
Do you worry you spend too much time thinking about your appearance? How do you think you become “a Lena”? Do you find your “Voice” has changed over time? What would your Beauty Experiment or “fast” look like?