Thursday, May 29, 2014

Who Inspires You

Have no idea how that green border appears but I'm leaving it
Maybe it’s all the Super Soul Sunday I watch or the motivational newsletters I receive; whatever it is I find myself feeling oddly appreciative lately. And since I’m usually the first person to point out when someone is full of it, annoying or scary, I figured I’d write a positive post.  I’m starting to realize that for every anti-smile, pretentious girl out there, there’s someone pretty amazing.
Some of these ladies I know first hand are awesome, for others you can just tell.

I’m inspired by:
There’s nothing better than funny and nobody I find funnier than Chelsea Handler. Let’s not forget the business she’s built and the books she’s written. And then there’s my friend Jena who’s also a writer and a stand up comedian. Who decides to rope off Starbucks or can make a workout sound this funny?

Sure there are professional athletes but I have a few in my midst. My friend Sarah Stanley does things like this “in 2009 completed 13 races, most notably a 100 mile ultra marathon, a 24 team relay, 3 full marathons and one half marathon- all within 5 weeks of each other. She also updated her progress via live updates to Twitter and Facebook.” Or Tricia of Food Matters NYC who periodically sends me emails like the one I received yesterday. “Something totally ridiculous like this race interests me. Have you found an Ultra that interests you?"

So yes, I wrote a book and love to write but don’t have a method or training. This week I had the pleasure of hearing Anna Quindlen speak about her latest book. My friend Aidan asked her if she had advice for rookie authors. She said “butt to chair” just put your butt in the chair and “just do it”. The inspiration comes when you’re writing. Speaking of Aidan, I’ve never said this but I think my courage to write LBT came in part from watching and reading about her journey writing her first book.

I’m realizing more and more as my kids get older how tricky this parenting thing is. I’m reading a book called the Conscious Parent by Dr Shefali Tsabari. My friend Ameena has a fantastic blog and I love that she never sugar coats the parenting journey. She also moved her family across the country, takes great trips and works really hard. And while often I find photos upon photos of children overkill, I love Alysa’s. Aside from taking beautiful photos, her love for her children shines without the bragging that so many parents succumb to.

Gorgeous and More
I know, I know looks shouldn’t impress but looks with charm and brains do. We just saw the movie Blended. Drew Barrymore looks fantastic and real and adorable and she’s 40 or almost 40.
So who inspires you? And what qualities do you find most inspiring? 
Maybe give a shout out today. When I emailed one of my friends and told her about this post she said, “that’s the nicest email ever”.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How are those white jeans fitting?

I thought the can’t wear white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day rule didn’t hold anymore. Sure there may be a few people who got this memo but not many according to Instagram. As I scrolled through my account this weekend, there were swarms of ladies in their stark white jeans. I didn’t wear white jeans this weekend but since it has been some time since I donned my pallid pants, I pulled them off my closet shelves to try them on.

I own three pair of white jeans. I put on the first. I’m sure many women like their jeans snug or form fitting but I’m not one of them. At a store where I shop at they joke that I like everything a size too big. I would say most people like things a size too small. I can guarantee the first pair I slipped (or pulled on with some effort) was the result of boutique peer pressure and I’m pretty sure I have never worn them out. In this Goldilocks of white jeans story the next pair was baggie and probably not the most flattering. And that third pair? It was the best of the three. Nothing needs to be sucked in and yet they would be suitable for going out to dinner.

To tell you the truth I get more excited about a summery dress than something I wear all year round in another color.  But white is de rigueur in summer  (which makes me like it less) so I did a little digging. While many fashion experts claim white doesn’t necessarily make you look heavier, I have multiple sources saying it’s less forgiving. There are a lot of theories about no white after Labor Day/only in summer ranging from white looks better when you are a little tan, white is difficult to keep clean and so with furnaces and fireplaces didn’t make sense. Who knows? All I know is chances are many of you pulled out and pulled on those white jeans this weekend, how’d it go?

Do you own white jeans? Do you use them to see how you feel body-wise? Are white jeans the new skinny jeans? Do you wear white pants all year round?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

On Track

Monday I focused on The Real Housewives. To prove I have varied tastes today’s post was inspired by a New York Times article. Before you give me credit, know this piece was clipped from Sunday Styles. Despite my RHONY embarrassment I know, via Google Analytics tracking, that many of you read the Ramona post. And I know from the “United States ofMetrics” that sixty-nine percent of Americans track their weight, diet or exercise. So there’s lots of tracking going on.

In addition to Google Analytics, at any given point I know my Fitbit steps (only 44 but it’s 5:30AM), water intake (8oz going up to 80, fingers crossed) and Instagram followers (2120, Snack Queen is to blame for this obsession). I used to care about Twitter but I’m newer to Instagram and yes even for me it seems there are only so many things one can track. Feiler writes, “we are awash in numbers. Data is everywhere. Old-fashioned things like words are in retreat; numbers are on the rise.”

I find numbers fun and motivating but you have to be careful. I take a spin classes at a place called Flywheel. While the other popular NYC studio focuses on “Soul”, Flywheel has metrics. You are guided through class with suggestions for torq and rpm (revolutions per minute). There’s even an optional torq board showing how you stack up versus others and you get a total number at the end of the session. If that’s not enough if you hit 3,000 for the month you “powered up” and receive a congratulatory email and a tank top. I don’t always love the tank but the e-patontheback? Fantastic.

When I started Flywheel, my total number wasn’t even on par with the lowest number on the board. I persevered and eventually felt confident to opt into the board. I continued to take classes and improve my scores and then something happened. One day, from the start of class it was clear something was off, my score seemed higher. This improvement wasn’t attributed to my fitness but to an “easy” bike. My total was tremendous and even knowing it was an error didn’t detract from my euphoria.
A couple of classes later spin karma struck and I was suddenly on the hardest bike in the world. I was working twice as hard and couldn’t even achieve my usual scores. I was frustrated and complained to management. Depressed and lacking confidence, I took myself off of the board.

But technology can be fun, for some more fun than others. I learned in the Times article that the Spreadsheet app calculates the length of sexual encounters…um no thanks. Tracking has its limits. I have been burned by a malfunctioning GPS watch malfunctioning during a marathon and on a bumpy boat ride my Fitbit mistook bumps for steps.

And all the nutrition apps in the world cannot assess what made you eat the 400 additional calories after dinner or why you tend to blow it on the weekends. I seriously hope we don’t have to choose one or the other because I still like words and conversation. I’m even trying to take Richard Branson’s advice to use the phone more (and email less). Wait, is there an app for that?
Are you a tracker or not so much? Which apps or devices do you use? Do you know anyone who uses Spreadsheet, c’mon tell me.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Am I Ramona?

So let’s get it out of the way. I watch RHONY (which if you have more highbrow TV taste stands for Real Housewives of New York). Even friends who share my viewing preferences have moved on from this particular show. But I watch. I watch the women behaving badly and sometimes it makes me feel normal, maybe even balanced by comparison. Mostly though, I watch in disbelief that they’re doing and saying these things.

In the latest episode, the “ladies” go to the Berkshires to Heather’s (Yummie founder, perhaps the sanest of the bunch) home. She plans a fun-filled weekend starting with canoeing on the lake. There’s some bitching and moaning about carrying the canoes but eventually they get out on the lake. Some women jump in for a swim but Ramona, the resident wacko, says she doesn’t want to get her hair wet. After a tiff with one of the other cast mates Kristin (wife of EBoost founder who likes to discuss blow jobs. I am not shy but haven't been able to "boost" since) splashes Ramona wetting her hair. Ramona does what “ladies” do and throws a glass (always good to have glass in a canoe) at Kristen splitting her lip.

This was bad and I am not sure why they didn’t remove Ramona from the weekend; however, what ensued later was Ramona making the argument that Kristen ruined her blow dry thus justifying glass throwing. As I watched Ramona make her crazy case with her crazy eyes and poorly salvaged hair I did my usual judging. In my head I thought it was petty and vain and then I realized something bad. I could relate. No, not to the violence but I have definitely passed up opportunities to take a swim or participate in things because of a blow dry or spray tan or whatever primping I was trying to maintain. And I have to say I feel like a loser every time.  

Part of it is being female (for me in a house of males). Although I can get out of the house for work (with makeup) in 10 minutes if need be, it’s not the two minutes my husband can muster. I do not have hair that can dry naturally (the way I like it).  You may recall on our Yellowstone trip I brought a mini flat iron and used it at the campsite, yup.

Whether it’s passing up a beach trip because you don’t feel bathing suit ready (ever) or the hair or the makeup for me it’s sad when we make these decisions, when we choose the "looks" over the experience. So it hit home when a TV lunatic was voicing the same concerns I have. At least I don’t say them out loud. ..
Do you ever make decisions based on looks that may mean sacrificing fun? Do you watch any of these Bravo shows? Do you blow-dry your hair? Will you watch the Bachelorette tonight (new season)?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Should you tell others you're trying to lose weight?

Research says shut your mouth (in more ways than one) if trying to lose
When I finish a session with a new client and they pay in cash, I know. Sure, there’s a chance they’re one of those credit cards shunners but it’s far more likely they don’t want their spouse to know. It’s their secret that they’re trying to lose weight. Recently, a writer asked Carolyn a great question. “Is it better to share your weight loss efforts with others or keep it to yourself?” Are the cash clients onto something?

Carolyn and I exchanged emails on this topic, her answers….
Can telling people you are trying to lose weight improve your results?
It can for a couple of reasons. Having a support system to back you up works wonders. Many clients are quick to point out the friends they eat poorly around but chances are there are those positive forces too. If you have friends who will join you at the gym or eat at healthy restaurants, make them “favorites”. You can also use friends and family for accountability. Even though I’m a nutritionist- some of our Foodtrainers’ office emails about hydration or fitbit steps really help me. And if you are seeing a nutritionist or trainer and sometimes professionals can be your “carb”confidante.

Are there any people you should refrain from telling?
Off the bat I would avoid telling those people who are jealous or will try to sabotage you, judgy family members are in this category. And beware, it’s often the judgy folks we want approval from. No matter how stoked you are about a new routine, be selective about sharing; you want support, not mommying or monitoring. 

So, why do you think people closet their weight loss efforts?
Some people are ashamed of needing to lose weight, food and nutrition are much more complicated than exercise. For others it’s fear of failure. One client’s husband said, “I just don’t want you to be disappointed if it doesn’t work.”  And then there’s always people who don’t want it to appear they “have to watch” their food intake or don’t want to cop to something as “silly” as food journaliing.

Do you see tide turning, are people sharing more?
On the whole people are more interested in food and health. The tide is definitely turning. There are office weight loss challenges, group fitness, apps not to mention social media encouraging us to share.

“The research” as it’s often referred to (and deferred to) encourages that we don’t share our goals, what do you say to the Ted talk etc?
OK so yes, there are studies and a Ted Talk that discourages goal sharing. The reasoning is that once you tell others what you’d like to achieve there’s some perceived accomplishment so you don’t work as hard at what you’re doing. This reminds me of New Years Resolutions, we’re all good at setting the goals. We avoid this with clients by having them focused on the behaviors versus just the goal. And what the studies miss is the effect shame can have on us. It’s not embarrassing to improve your health or watch what you’re eating and it doesn’t feel good to hide or lie.
Are you open about your efforts to lose weight or be healthy? Who do you share the most with (in this department) your partner, friends, shrink? What do you think about the studies pointing out that sometimes sharing isn’t best?

Monday, May 12, 2014

This is Why You're Not Losing Weight

I totally missed Tracy Mcmillan’s article “This is WhyYou’re Not Married” perhaps because I am married (Tracy can we have an article on that) but from what I gather it caused quite a stir. It’s touchy for someone to point out why you’re “not” something you want to be. If relationships are difficult to discuss, I spend my days focused an equally touchy subject and that of course is weight. From day to day, I see many roadblocks that exist between men and women and their goals. I don’t have all the answers but I do have experience. See if you spot yourself in any of these.

You think the answer to the weight question lies in what you’re eating- we have a checklist on new client questionnaires. Checklists are a little sneaky in that questions listed don’t’ feel so “big”. New clients rate on a scale of 1, 2 or 3 what they’d like to cover in their sessions. One item on the list is “assistance with emotional eating”. Nobody gives that item a 1 (indicating it’s unimportant). And yet, when we sit down to meet, about half of new clients will say “well I don’t binge or anything like that.” OK that’s helpful but if you feel yourself headed for the cabinets after getting off a stressful phone call. Or, if you’ve ever uttered, “I’ll do that once I lose some weight” you’re weight is about more that “just liking food” or an extra glass of wine.

Your workouts get more attention than your diet- I love the fact that fitness has taken off. I don’t know if it’s the branding from studios such as soul cycle and flywheel or that there are so many interesting options (step aerobics was not for everyone) but fewer and fewer clients come in for their first session not working out. On the contrary, many exercise multiple days a week and there they are sitting in my client chair. So here’s the deal, you can’t exercise away a poor diet (I may have mangled a phrase Carolyn uses all the time). And if you’re saying, “my diet isn’t poor” well how about the fact that diet determines about 75% of the weight picture? You absolutely need exercise for your health but if you’re looking to reduce be sure your shopping list gets more attention than that workout schedule.

You’re focused on what you’re doing right- perhaps you exercise (you now know my thoughts on that subject), eat salad and hydrate, that’s all good. However, we don’t get to pick and choose what holds us pack. As I discussed a plan of attack with a client last week she looked at me and said “but I already do so much that’s good”.  I sometimes call this the spoiled brat syndrome (don’t worry I told her so). This client wanted to lose weight but was only doing the parts of her Foodtraining that came easily to her while eating too many carbs and treats. I presented a challenge. I asked her to follow the plan I had outlined for a week. We know what happened, right? At the next visit this client, though initially stubborn, saw that a couple of areas were holding her back.
You’re waiting for the other shoe to drop (the “heavy” shoe)-I have another client I’ve only been seeing for a couple of months. She came in with a lot of longstanding, destructive habits and we’ve been steadily chipping away at them.
A couple of months into our work, she went on a vacation and was disappointed with her eating and said, “I just don’t see this happening it’s so easy to go back to how I used to eat.” That comment was a bigger red flag than any of the food consumed on the trip. I didn’t express my concern but helped her regroup. I knew mentally she was teetering. It took about a month but I waited for the right time and asked, “so do you see yourself sticking with this? Can you envision yourself at the weight you want to be?” She could and whatever you’re trying to do, if you want to do it (for good) you have to be able to picture it. I don’t care if it sounds corny you have to believe it to do it.

You lost weight and now want to discuss maintenance- Oh maintenance. As I say in LBT there is no finish line when it comes to weight loss. Did weight watchers start this? The idea of a “goal weight”? I wholeheartedly believe in goals but why in the world would we make progress in a certain area (therapy, fitness, work) and then jump ship? As much as the word “lifestyle” bugs me, whether it’s Foodtraining, gluten free, paleo or vegan if you find a regime that makes you feel energized and lean please stick to it. Sure, we have weeks where our eating is looser and others where it’s better, that’s OK. If you are waiting and expecting the rules to change once you make some progress or reach your “goal” you may have set the wrong goal.

Whatever it is, whether you have those same 5 pounds or 50 pounds to lose. If you’re just tired of not feeling your best and that’s taking up way too much mind time…chances are there’s something mentally or physically that needs adjusting. You know what they say; if we keep doing things the same way we get the same result. So pick the scenario or tip you relate to most. Admit “I do that”. And then you can make real progress.

Which of these tips is the most relatable for you? Why do you think so many people focus on exercise more than eating? Did you read the Tracy McMillan piece?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

I had the sexy mom

This post isn't necessarily food related except my mom was probably my biggest "food" influence or maybe she was just my biggest influence.

I didn’t realize it at the time but as I grew up I was taking notes on my mom. Who was she, how was she like or unlike other mothers? Consciously or unconsciously I observed her.

Fairly early on I knew I had a pretty mom. But my mother wasn’t pretty in the way Van Morrison says, “girls dressed up for each other”.  She wasn’t stuck on having the "it" purse or following the latest trend. And she wasn't just pretty, she was sexy. A photo of her in her white short shorts, t-shirt and white round sunglasses leaning against her white sports car comes to mind.  And as pretty as my mother was, she always said how beautiful I was  (even at so many stages when I didn’t feel it or look it).

My mother was not the mom who knew when I had a test was or what my homework was. When I was in college I went on Semester at Sea. I was dating someone at the time and sat in his room as he packed for one of our ports. He reached into a drawer and removed a Ziploc bag. I asked about the bag labeled “China” and he said his mother made him parcels of socks and underwear for each port. Wow. I’m fairly certain my mother didn’t know if I packed socks and underwear or anything that did or didn’t go into my suitcase. In fact when I was seven I went off to sleep away camp. The counselors went around handing out keys for our trunks. Turns out my mom hadn’t sent the keys (fortunately it opened with one of the other keys). In her defense, my mom did have a letter waiting for me…priorities.

My friends often remark that our family goes on great trips. To me, it’s just what you do with children, almost part of their education. My birthday is in August and my fourth birthday was spent in Spain, my fifth in England and sixth in Italy. Our apartment would be rented and off we went. And it wasn’t always smooth sailing. My mom enrolled me in camp in Spain where there was no English spoken. In England my mother looked the wrong way at an intersection and we were in a car accident…with a double decker bus. We found out I was allergic to bee stings in Rome when I was stung landing me in the hospital. And cruel as it may sound, recently when my son was terrified on a not so safe boat ride in Jamaica, I laughed to myself- it’s sort of why you go.

My opinion of many of these things has changed. I didn’t like being told I looked “just like my mom” growing up.  And part of me wondered what it would be like to have the mother who was always at school or packed peanut butter and jelly. My mother would bring me to the Plaza while she got her hair done and send me with money to Teuschers chocolates in the the lobby to buy champagne truffles.

Last week we were in Italy. My mother turned 75. I refuse to say, “she’s still beautiful” because she’s beautiful and almost ageless. When Facebook friends remarked that we looked alike, I felt proud.

As a parent now myself, I know it’s almost harder not to hover. Now my mother was working and I don’t think her parenting style was a conscious choice. I don’t know if I would allow my 12 year old (daughter!) to take the subway up to the Bronx or all the freedom my mother gave me. When I asked her about this recently she said, “you just did what you needed to do, I didn’t have to stand over you.”
Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, to you and yours. And Mom I promise, despite my tendencies, to never make underwear packets for the boys.
What kind of mother do or did you have? Will you be with her today? Isn't it funny how things we ran away from are cherished now?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Top Ten Tips For Your Healthiest Mother's Day Ever

Motherhood is great, I can get sappy and say it’s a gift (which it absolutely) is but it’s gift that comes with its own unique challenges. With a little planning (I mean who’s better at planning than moms?) we can put those difficulties to bed. Try these 10 tips  for your healthiest Mother’s Day yet.

1. Pick Free Week- many of my “mom” clients say they don’t eat chicken fingers or candy or mac and cheese and truth be told they don’t really eat a full portion of them. However, the few French fries and cookie bites add up. For one full week, skip the kid picks. It will be both eye opening and slimming.

2. Try Turmeric- are you familiar with turmeric? It’s the yellow spice (a component in curry powder) you may very well have in your spice cabinet. Well take it out and sprinkle it on eggs or veggies or grains. It’s a very powerful mood booster, has strong anti cancer properties and is anti-inflammatory too.

3. Skinny Starts Sunday- use an hour or two on Sunday to make a weekly menu and food shop. I suggest trying 1 new recipe or ingredient per week and planning at least 1 fish or shellfish dinner for the family. Winging it and weight loss (or health) don’t go together.

4. Go for Glass- many moms are aware of BPAs those chemicals lurking in many plastic bottles and kids’ sippy cups. If you think BPA free is the way to go, I’m not convinced what they’re replacing BPAs with in these plastics is any safer. Your best bet for you and the kids are glass water bottles and food containers. If you’re on the fence this class of chemicals found in many plastics are called obeseogens, yup.

5. Play- think of your children as mini personal trainers. When my kids shoot hoops I do too. A client just came in saying “instead of watching my kids play soccer I joined in. They loved that I was playing and I got some added exercise in.” Win, win.

6. Afternoon Ammunition- moms are known to for pack snacks for kids and nothing for themselves. And then if you’re lucky there will be cheddar bunnies to spare. You can do better than bunnies. In every purse, stash a snack. I like nutrition bars by Zing and Health Warrior. You can also wash out an altoid tin, we call this a “nutcase” at Foodtrainers. Fill with hazelnuts or sunflower seeds (both contain a type of fat that legitimately belly slimming)

7. Cooking Crudite- dinnertime can be a doozy. Many clients say they taste and graze so much while they’re cooking that they aren’t hungry for dinner (but still eat). The solution? Set out some cooking crudité- carrots, cucumbers or bell peppers sliced for when you want to munch on something but are conscious about those cooking calories.

8. Be An Early Bird- speaking of cooking and dinner, when to eat is a dilemma for many moms. Do you eat early with the children or wait for your spouse to come home in a couple of hours? Have an early bird dinner which is much better than  a double dinner.

 9. Watch where you work- I wouldn’t pay bills or return emails in the kitchen with the fridge staring at you, it’s too tempting and one stressful email or big bill can send you over the snack edge.

10. Tea is the thin girl’s nightcap- it’s so easy to crave a treat once the kids are asleep. Then one treat turns into two…Instead try nighttime teas. I love one made by Pukka with lavender in it. It’ll save you calories and relax you.

And on that note, a happy and healthy Mother’s Day to all.

Monday, May 5, 2014

What I discovered I stink at

I just finished the glass of water in front of me. While that may not sound like a big deal, it’s unusual. I took a spin class this morning, had a green smoothie for breakfast and just had a kale salad “no croutons” for lunch. I mention these healthy checklist items only to show you I practice what I preach suggest. That is, except when it comes to water. This spring we launched our Foodstalking program. Anytime there is anything new at Foodtrainers we all test-drive it. So, Joanna stalked me daily. Each night I emailed over my food, exercise, supplements and water intake for the day. It became clear and I was not hitting the 80 ounces I suggest. And I wasn’t even close.

Yes, I like green juices and green tea and coconut water and COFFEE but when it comes to water, I suck. Or I should say I sucked because all it took was my stalker challenging me to improve my hydration and I did. Instead of taking my vitamins with a sip of water, I finished the whole cup. I brought my Bkr and Lifefactory bottles with me to workout and didn’t allow myself to check email or anything else until I finished them. I rediscovered my decades dormant chugging skills and took great pleasure using my fitbit app to track my water intake (you fill a person up with water, it’s very gratifying).

We soon discovered Carolyn was also lacking in the water department so we declared it “hydration nation” at Foodtrainers. I know it sounds dramatic but afternoon energy dips were history, workouts improved and appetites decreased. We are people who would score pretty well on a wellness exam and yet getting one piece of the puzzle in order made a huge difference.

And I expanded hydration nation overseas. I was just in Italy for my mother’s birthday. I had aloe water on my way to the airport, water or tea every time it was offered (I lost count) on our overnight flight and once there made sure I adhered to our one for one rule. That is I had one glass of either “frizzante” or “naturale” water for each glass of prosecco. If you’ve met my mother you know that means I hydrated well.
Are you at 80 ounces of water a day? What tricks do you use to encourage yourself to drink? Are you “frizzante” or “naturale”?
And if you want to be stalked email