6 Month Check-Up

Today was my son’s 6 month check-up and he’s growing like a weed! Now weighing just slightly more than 17 pounds and 26 inches long, he has a head circumference of almost 17 inches – no wonder I call him “Pumpkin Noggin”. Thank god his Auntie Jessica is knitting him a winter cap, I can’t find anything to cover his cranium…

His weigh-ins are my weigh-ins too and I have to admit I was dreading this one. I’ve been a little slack about getting to the Y and working out. Mornings with the baby are so sweet and I feel like a monster waking him up and dragging him out of the house so I can exercise. This week I made it to the gym twice, and last week I only went once. I’ve tried to make up for my slow mornings by taking long afternoon walks, but they often culminate at the coffee shop and the sugary soy milk in my decaf latte cancels out the benefits of my jaunt, I’m sure. 

So imagine my surprise to find that I’ve lost another 4 pounds! My goal is only 8 pounds away – single digits! It’s not quite a pound a week, since there were 5 weeks…but I still feel pretty good about it. And Fall has always been my time of year to focus and regroup. I’m glad summer with all of its distractions is over.

So I’m going to challenge myself – can I lose my remaining 8 pounds in only 2 months (so by MJ’s 8 month check up) and shave a month of off my time? I’ve already got my next goal figured out, too. My pre-pregnancy weight is 25 pounds heavier than I was at my high school graduation. Can I get down to my 1990 weight by my next birthday….March 20, 2011? If I can make it, I’ll celebrate my first 39th birthday (an age I intend to “stick” for many years) thinner than I have been in more than 2 decades. Can I do it? Yup.

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Good Deed of the Day

Today I made a difference. After hearing about the Vitamin Water lawsuit and reading countless articles about how we “drink” our calories, I’ve become hyper-vigilant about my beverage consumption. I haven’t had a soda in more than 2 years, and if I drink juice, it’s in small amounts or added to sparkling water to give it a little more kick.

While shopping in Whole Foods today, I noticed that they were having a special deal on juice boxes as part of their back-to-school promotions. There was a huge stack of “Honest Kids” organic juice boxes with a Whole Foods sign advertising “Organic Juice Boxes $4.99” – not a bad deal. So I picked up a pack and looked at the ingredients. Sure enough, right above the Nutrition Facts panel it says “10% juice” The first ingredient was water, the second was sugar, then various juices. So I put it right back down. But then instead of walking on, something inside me snapped. I stopped a passing “team member” and asked to speak to the manager. The grocery manager came over right away and I explained very nicely that I thought their sign was unfair – that these so-called “juice boxes” only contained 10% juice and were actually 90% sugar water, and that marketing them as “Organic Juice” was wrong.

The sign was removed (although the product still remains, but to be fair, I don’t think that’s the grocery manager’s decision – but a corporate call) and 2 hours later when I checked back in after Mommy & Me yoga, the sign was still gone and the juice boxes had been re-stacked in such a way that the sign couldn’t be put back in its previous spot.

It’s a really small victory – but if one mom isn’t fooled into thinking that she’s giving her kid juice when it’s really fancy flavored sugar water – then I feel like I did my good day of the day. But this type of marketing and labeling happens all the time and I get especially cranky when it’s devious AND marketed towards children. Grrrr…

I mean, look at this packaging – it has the USDA Organic seal, it says “organic thirst quenchers”, 1/2 the sugar of most kids drinks. No HFCS, and the brand name says Honest – right there, plain as day (Yes, it’s made by the Honest T folk) Any unsuspecting shopper would think this is a good choice. Makes me crazy that I have to read the side label on every single package – but that’s what we have to do. So this is my battle cry “Read Every Label!” today I won a small skirmish in the battle of the bulge, but the war rages on…

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Get Your Badonka-Donk in Gear!

This is the sign that greeted me at my Y this morning when I went to work out. I almost drove into a tree reading it, I was laughing so hard. I really appreciate the humor and the sentiment. A few days ago, my Facebook status was a quote from Bill Maher ~”A recent Duke University study showed that exercise is just as effective a cure for depression as Paxil and Zoloft. So ask your doctor if getting off your ass is right for you.” Genius.

Ahhh…EXERCISE…it’s the cheapest and easiest thing you can do to improve your health, but it’s always met with such resistance. Personally, it’s the first thing I let go of when I get busy. I don’t love it. If I could be healthy without it, my badonka-donk would be playing with the baby or watching The Deadliest Catch marathons (yup, my new favorite show – I love the crabby men of the Bering Sea). I was just lamenting the fact that I only made it to the Y twice this week (in a “normal” week, I work out four times, and if I’m truly on top of my game, I can get in five or six workouts). And I have a million great excuses: the baby was sleeping, the weather was terrible, I had a morning appointment, I had a lot of work to do, I needed to go grocery shopping, I didn’t have any clean socks, my IPod was out of juice, my curiosity was piqued, my moral compass was pointing northwest instead of true north. My best one: I’m sore from going yesterday, so I’ll go tomorrow. Tomorrow always seems to be three days later in that scenario.

The ironic thing is that when I’m actually working out, I feel fantastic. Moving my body makes me feel strong and capable – and not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. Those endorphins start pumping and I feel joyful. When I’m in the middle of it – I love it! Yet every morning I wage the same internal battle about getting up and getting my badonka-donk out of bed. If I win that war and make it to the gym, I often end up in a great mood, being more productive and getting more accomplished than if I sleep in an extra hour. Why is that? How does exercise make it possible to get more done in less time? And knowing that it does, why is it such a fight to work-out everyday? Ahh – the classic conundrum of the right thing v. the easy thing. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about life (and taking better care of myself) it’s that doing the right thing always pays off in the end. And speaking of ends…wait til you see my ever-shrinking bodonka-donk donk!

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Bacon Peanut Brittle

I have a new favorite sweet treat, courtesy of the Swift Half Pub at the Piazza in NoLibs. It’s sold as a bar snack, 3 pieces for $3 and it’s CRAZY GOOD. I’m so grateful I didn’t discover this treat while I was pregnant, it would’ve been ugly. Bacon Peanut Brittle. Excuse the poor photo quality, but I had to use my phone to capture the moment:The bacon was thick and smoky and there were large pieces dispersed throughout the treat. It wasn’t chock full of peanuts, there was lots of “brittle” – that caramel sugary crackle of sticky yummy molar-gumming goodness.

It struck just the right balance of salty, smoky & sweet – and I don’t usually care for smoke flavor. I don’t like smokehouse almonds, the smoked cheeses or fish. As a matter of fact my grandmother once said I wasn’t a “good Jew” because I don’t like lox. (Why take a perfectly lovely piece of salmon and torture it like that? What’s the matter with a nice poach or a lovely pan sear? Hell, give it to me raw with some rice and wasabi and I’m a happy camper.)

Bacon Peanut Brittle lives in my own personal nutritional no-man’s land. I even heard myself try to rationalize eating such a huge quantity of sugar with that old standard “but it has a good amount of protein in it” – peanuts AND bacon (as if those were great sources of protein – ha!). And peanuts have the “good fat”. It’s amazing the lies we can tell ourselves to justify poor choices.

Deep breath and let it go. I wanted it and I enjoyed it. It was one choice out of many that I made today, and my other choices were good. Kale and eggs for breakfast, a salad with grilled shrimp for lunch, a homemade dinner of brown rice pasta with fresh vegetables from the farmer’s market. A plum, some cantaloupe, lots of water to drink…At least I know I ate the rainbow of fruits and vegetables I needed to get my nutrients. Obviously I’m still rationalizing. But it was delicious…and so worth it!

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5 Month Weigh-In…

Today was my son’s 5 month doctor’s appointment and he is thriving! A healthy 16 lbs 3.5 oz and 25 inches long…in the 50th percentile for growth…he’s getting  nice & chunky! He also had to get a shot, so now he’s resting uncomfortably, my poor fussy guy.

His weigh-ins are my weigh-ins too, and so far I’m proud to say that I’m right on schedule – and another 5 pounds down! I have 4 months left (just over 16 weeks) to get rid of my remaining baby weight, 13 pounds. I’ve noticed that I feel more fit when I exercise (kicking step class ass) and I can see the difference in my face (hello cheekbones!) and my thighs (goodbye saddlebags!). I’ve also been gluten and dairy free for more than 2 months without any “cheats”.

Today, the tech at my pediatrician’s office asked me what I was doing to lose weight (after remarking about how great I look – thanks Jackie!) and I told her I was exercising regularly, and eating well. And that’s so  true – I haven’t been counting calories or weighing out exact portions, and I’ve certainly had treats (a chocolate bar here, gluten-free cake there, a crazy amount of BBQ ribs while on vacation) But at the end of the day, I realized that the best thing I do for my health  is cook. As soon as eating out is out of the equation, the weight comes off. Which makes me wonder exactly what I’m eating at restaurants. Last night I stumbled across this article in the New York Times that explains that published calories counts on menus can (legally – according to the FDA) be off by up to 20%. And some of the discrepancies were just ridiculous!


Here’s a quote from that piece:

“Some of the disparities were startling. At Denny’s, a serving of grits, listed at 80 calories, tested at 258. The label on Lean Cuisine’s shrimp and angel-hair pasta says it has 220 calories, but the researchers measured it at 319. They found 344 calories in a Wendy’s grilled chicken wrap listed at 260.”

YIKES! I  may not be a calorie counter, but if I eat something that says it has 80 calories and it really has 250…well, I certainly won’t reach my goal of losing 13 pounds in the next 4 months.

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Kickin’ Step Class Ass

Every Tuesday I torture myself with the BodyStep class at the Y. I started two months ago, thoughts of Jane Fonda-sizing running through my mind. Careful choreography is not my strong suit; and I’m about as graceful as a bull in a china shop (although much better looking in a leotard).

The first class I attended was actually the launch of the program at the YMCA, complete with fun give-aways – granola bars and bottles of water. I skipped the food, but ended up drinking multiple bottles of water during the class. And there were three instructors, each demonstrating a different level of commitment. Beginner (“Possibly”) Intermediate (“Unlikely”) and Advanced (“No Chance in Hell”).

The music was loud and energy was high and I was concentrating very hard not to twist my ankle or fall on my butt. I had to follow the “low impact” instructor and I still struggled to keep up. I must have looked completely dejected when we were done, because all 3 instructors came over to talk to me after class. (Do they work on commission?Are they paid by the pound? Am I someone’s Christmas bonus?) The high impact leader of the pack was a little too perky for me…I would’ve liked to kick her in the shins, but I was too exhausted to lift my foot. My low impact lady introduced herself as Jennifer and whispered in my ear that she weighed 275 pounds when she started BodyStep and was now an instructor in training, one year later. SOLD!

Now I’ve been working out 4-5 times a week, mixing it up with BodyStep, BodyPump (a weightlifting version), water aerobics, and time in the fitness center – 2 months later there’s a noticable difference in my fitness level. This weeks class was my personal best. In just 8 weeks, I’ve gone from the simple tap on the bench to the high knee. This is a major milestone in the world of step aerobics! I feel like I should get a gold star, or a button or a sticker, maybe a bumper sticker (BTW, my personal bumper is definitely smaller) And I felt strong, capable and almost graceful. I can’t believe the changes in only 8 weeks. Monday is my official 5 month weigh-in (I can’t believe my son is 5 months old!) I’m hoping for a loss of 4-5 pounds, my slow & steady 1 pound/week goal. Hopefully I’m on track to get my baby fat off in the same 9 months it took me to put it on. Stay tuned…

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Chocolate & PB Frozen ‘Nanas

I have a sweet tooth. I can walk away from potato chips without flinching, because salty snacks just don’t satisfy me the way sugar does… Creamy candied pleasure, luscious chocolate gooey-ness, and the pinnacle of my dessert desire –   birthday cake. I have great affection for that hyper-sweet yellow confection, thick with  buttercream icing…

But knowledge is both a blessing and a curse, and becoming a nutritionist has really ruined a lot of sweet treats for me.  Now I know that (at least commercially) my favorite frosting is made from cheap hydrogenated soybean oil. Hydrogenated oils are a deal-breaker. When I’m shopping, if I see High Fructose Corn Syrup on an ingredient list, that item goes back on the shelf. I’m watching my added sugar intake like my life depends on it (Because  it does, with the way diabetes runs in my family!) Add to this I don’t eat gluten or dairy and what’s a gal to do?

Check out this incredibly delicious and goof proof recipe!

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Covered Frozen Bananas


  • 3 bananas
  • 1 cup dark chocolate-chips
  • 2   tablespoons organic peanut butter


  • 9 wooden popsicle sticks
  • parchment paper
  1. Peel bananas and cut into three sections. Gently insert a popsicle stick into the center.
  2. Place on a parchment paper lined tray and place in the freezer while you melt your chocolate.
  3. Combine chocolate chips and peanut butter in a double boiler. I use a Pyrex mixing bowl over a pot of softly boiling water. If you must use a microwave, set it on medium (power 6-7) until melted. Stir with a spatula until smooth.
  4. Pour melted chocolate into a tall, narrow glass or container. Remove bananas from freezer. Dip, one by one, into the chocolate, letting it ooze up the sides of the glass and coat the banana.
  5. Place bananas on tray again and sprinkle with nuts, if desired. I think cashew pieces are ideal. For an extra hit of chocolate, go ahead and put more chips on top. Or mix them together…mmmm…yum!
  6. Freeze until solid.

To enjoy: remove from freezer and allow to sit at room temperature for about five minutes.

The reason I like this so much (besides the fact that it hits all my pleasure centers – sweet, cold, & creamy) is the added protein from the peanut butter and nuts. In choosing a healthy treat, I look for a complex carb, a “good” fat and protein.  The banana is my complex carb, and the nuts act as both healthy fat (monounsaturated or MUFA) and protein source. I use chocolate that’s at least 65% cocoa, rich and dark and full of antioxidants.


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Obsession: Poop

I am obsessed with poop. Number 2 is my number 1 concern. Why? Because it’s an excellent barometer of health. – physical, mental & emotional. Although I’ve always had more than a passing interest in poo, it wasn’t a full-blown fixation until my 4 month old son started eating food. Watching his body try to jump-start the complicated process of digestion is fascinating. And today we had a true scatological milestone…baby’s first turd! I took a picture of it, emailed it to close friends and family and barely resisted posting it on Facebook. (If you’d like to see it , just ask…although it may turn up at the end of this post…I’m still debating.)PEE AND POO PLUSH DOLLS

Lately, the subject of excreta has come up a lot. Tonight I was teaching a seminar, “Deciphering Food Labels”, at my local natural foods store. At the end of  class a woman volunteered the information that she has been steadily losing weight by incorporating dairy into her diet. I’m thinking she’s eating low-fat yogurt or drinking skim milk, and I was right but also so very, very wrong. She is drinking milk, knowing that she’s lactose intolerant! The milk makes her sick, flushing out her system. Or as she put it, “The milk comes out, along with everything else”. No need for fancy laxatives when plain old moo juice will do the trick. Honey, that is not a great plan for long-term weight loss!

Last week, my very sensitive social worker friend was crying (yes – real tears) because she was working with constipated homeless children. In her mind, these kids “couldn’t move their bowels” because they were so emotionally distraught. Living under the train trestle with their crackhead mom would have many devastating consequences, but I’m not sure that an inability to make is the result of being upset by their tragic situation. I’m more inclined to chalk it up to poor diet and dehydration. And of all the horrible things happening to these kids daily, my friend was completely focused on the fact they couldn’t take a crap. If I had to live like that I would be scared sh*tless too. (I don’t mean to make light of their terrible circumstances, I just don’t believe the most pressing issue is a lack of poop).

Even I had my own issues this week. Normally I’m as regular as an atomic clock.

But I was traveling, off my regular schedule and eating vast quantities of BBQ ribs. I always know when I’ve been eating too much animal protein – it’s the one thing that backs up my plumbing. Perhaps BP’s “junk shot” should have contained hot dogs and hamburgers, rather than golf balls and tires – maybe that would have gotten the job done? Anyway, I spent a lot of my vacation wondering when I might unclench enough to go. (And the answer was…when I got home! Nothing beats familiar porcelain)

A little parting advice:


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I Have a Crush on Adam Richman

Oh Adam! He’s a self-proclaimed food fanatic with a serious appetite for life always looking for the “ultimate food challenge”.  In case you don’t know who I’m talking about, Adam Richman is the host of a TV show “Man V. Food” on the Travel Channel. The show is all about everything that is wrong with our pop food culture, and yet I’m completely charmed. Each episode is set in a different city, but follows the same basic format. Two or three stops at local faves that typify food of the region, then a short “inter-mezzo” skit or dream sequence leading into the final segment, which is a “food challenge” that falls into one of two categories: Hotter than Hell or Consume Mass Quantities.

Thanks to Adam, I now know what a ghost chili is, and that it’s 100x hotter than a jalapeno. I get a kick out of watching him cry and sweat and plead for milk. The fact that I love watching him suffer only proves how much I care. I like my food well seasoned, but never so spicy that all I taste is burning This man has scorched his taste buds for my viewing pleasure and manages to maintain his witty banter through his tears.

But it’s the sheer quantity of food that he can consume in a single sitting that is truly awe-inspiring and completely frightening. Food is measured by the pound and in comparison to the size of Adam’s head. My favorite episode by far has him sitting at Katz’s deli (been there, ate that) with his MOTHER eating a pound of pastrami. His mom asks him if he really need to eat all that, to which he replies “I have to Ma, it’s my job”. Her response? “Yeah…but is it healthy?” Ummm…last week he drank a 6 pound milkshake served in a two foot tall glass vase – he lost sight of healthy a long time ago.

And yet…I want him. He’s adorable! It’s because I like him just the way he is, and yet I want to completely change him. I want to be his side-kick on this pig-out mission and I want to be his nutritionist and save him from himself. But the obvious pleasure he takes in eating is…well…sexy. It’s the lust in his lust for life that turns me on. I know food is not entertainment, but watching Adam eat is my guilty pleasure…when he speaks of food being “softened by hot butter” I feel myself melt a little. Just love me half as much as you love bacon, and I’ll be satisfied.

Hey Adam! The next time you’re in Philly (the first time he did Reading Terminal, Franklin Fountain and a 5 pound cheese steak at Tony Luke’s) and you want a dining companion..call me, please?!

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And I want to be a paperback writer…

I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a book for a while. I have absolutely no experience and no idea where to start. So I went to Amazon and bought “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Novel” by Tom Monteleone and “The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing”  by Meg Leder, Jack Heffron and the Editors of Writer’s Digest. Yup – well on my way to being a professional author.

I’ve started by writing, just writing for the sake of putting words on paper. I’m trying not to self-censor (not that hard for me, I tend to walk around reasonably filter-less) and I’m also thinking about some sort of loose organizing structure.I guess that would be called a…plot?

I’ve been thinking about how my relationship with food mirrors my relationships with people. About how many of the pivotal events in my life have taken place around food and over meals. The role that food plays in my personal and cultural identity and all the different reasons I eat.

Here are some of the reasons I eat:

Hunger, entertainment, loneliness, boredom, excitement, ennui, anger, joy, regret, sleepiness, crankiness, hurt, rejection, sadness, happiness, isolation, control, apathy, because it’s Tuesday…countless reasons…but where did it start? How did it start?

“Emotional Food Forensics” – I’ve started to journal a series of non-sequitor memories and stories. My own and others. Every food story I can remember, throw away one-liners (A quick nosh – My grandmother once told me I wasn’t a “good Jew” because I don’t like lox, or any of the smoked fishes) and long intricate tales (Food for thought – The first things my mother asked for the last week of her life were a chocolate shake from McDonald’s and a snickers bar from the hospital gift shop. Oh, and sub-lingual liquid morphine…but I don’t think that counts as food)

It’s definitely a quest for personal redemption thru diet. I’m  excited to start a new project that has meaning – it’s been a while since I thought about a creative outlet (I think I remember making Art, once upon a time) Painful at times, but if it starts to get overwhelming, I just go down to the kitchen and get a snack. OH! Gotcha…

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