Thursday, April 29, 2010

Running Groups Rock and Don't Stick a Dirty Tissue in your Sports Bra

A little haiku I just wrote:

Running in the Spring
is tulips, magnolias,
sweating, burning, bliss

Okay, I won't quit my day job.  The fact that I even remember what a haiku is should be commended.  But anyway, let's talk about running.  I started running 4 years ago for three primary reasons:
  1. Minute per minute, it burns more calories than pretty much any other activity (for most people, it's ~100 calories burned per mile).  Check out this cool tool to calculate calories burned during running. 
  2. You can leave from your door step and get a decent workout in less than 30 min.
  3. All you really need is a decent pair of shoes (but I LOVE workout clothes and cannot seem to get enough of them).
Now running is not for everyone, and I get that.  It wasn't for me for most of my life.  And I know a lot of you probably prefer to run alone for any number of reasons.  But I LOVE my running group and want everyone else on the planet to run with a group too!  Why???  

First, most running groups are led by a certified running coach.  These folks can not only lead a workout, but they can actually correct your form so that you are less likely to get injured and less likely to look like a flailing lunatic out their pounding the pavement.  Second, you get to meet all of these fantastic people that also run.  (This is actually my favorite reason.)  Third, you will likely become a faster and/or more efficient runner, which makes running more pleasurable.  Again, these coaches know what they are doing.  Check out my running coach and you will see why just being around her makes people better runners.  That's her in the picture, front and left in the blue.  She is a total rock star!  Check out this article she just wrote on how women need to exercise at least 60 min a day to merely maintain their body weight as they get older.  Yikes!

Now on to the story about tissue.  You probably cannot see it in the picture above, but I am running in the back of that pack with a dirty, used tissue sticking out of my running top (maroon top, visor on).  In my defense, it was allergy season.  That said, I knew they were taking this picture for a local magazine (a fancy schmancy magazine) and yet, I wasn't smart enough to move the tissue.  In the pretty glossy that appeared in the magazine, it looks very suspicious.  Luckily, the latest running clothes all come with small pockets and I was happy to add a few of these to my collection.  (As if I even needed an excuse!) 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Nutritionista on Organic vs. Conventional Milk

Should SHE buy organic milk???  The debate around organic versus conventional milk has been going on forever!  It seems to be one of those polarizing topics that has the potential to break up friendships, alienate family members, start fist fights at the playground.  Another study has just been published that has compared the nutritional quality of organic to conventional milk.  Guess what?  No meaningful differences between the two milks.  This has also been shown for organic fruits and vegetables...the nutrition quality seems to essentially be the same or only small differences exist.  This is, of course, good news to the many that cannot afford to pay the premium for organic.
BUT, start asking nutritionists what they buy and more importantly, what they serve their children and I will bet you my polyester suit that most will say 'organic'.  I cannot speak for all nutritionists, but here is why I think many choose organic over conventional, even though the nutrition quality is the same:

1. Theoretically, organic should be healthier.  What if we cannot detect the benefits of organic with our current scientific methodologies?  What if the small benefits of organic add up over a lifetime?  Remember, most controlled scientific experiments are pretty short term (days, weeks, months and rarely, years). 
2. Organic is better for the environment.  I'm not an expert on environmental affairs but it seems to me that using less chemicals, antibiotics and hormones is a good thing for the planet.  
3. Any food closer to being 'natural' is a good thing.  Most people would not argue that corn on the cob is better for you than corn flour.  The closer the food is to being from the ground, the healthier it tends to be.  Using this principle, milk from cows that have been roaming around on pasture without much human intervention should be healthier than cows fed a man-made diet of corn+soybeans in steel-gated pens, and healthier cows may result in healthier milk.    

So...what is SHE to do?  If you don't mind shelling out a few extra bucks each week, I would suggest you buy organic.  Or, you could buy conventional milk and save those extra dollars to buy yourself something this ostrich egg with coral finial I stumbled upon for $900.  Do you think that is an organic ostrich egg???

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rules SHE lives by

I'm starting a running list.  Feel free to add to this with some of your own rules.  Maybe we can create a handbook or something for those entering The Decade of SHE.  I wish I would have known about a bunch of these earlier in my life...especially #2.  (big shiver)

1. Never smell any equipment located within a gym. Even new equipment smells once it is exposed to the air inside of a gym.  It's a smelly place...accept it.  
2. Resist the urge to smell dirty laundry.  Whether out of curiosity or for clean/dirty determination, just don't.  
3. Always assume your cat/dog's tongue has not recently been in their bum.  
4. Unless you have food allergies, never consider what ingredients go into ethnic foods.  For your personal enjoyment and the enjoyment of others, let's just all be in the dark on that.
5. Always celebrate the little things.  This is my new favorite rule.  An evening of Glee is worth opening up a bottle of bubbly. 

What else???

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Nutritionista on Being Mental

As a dork/scientist, I get overly excited about attending conventions where other dorks/scientists present results from their recent experiments.  Besides hearing about the latest and greatest on nutrition research, it is a glorious occasion to watch polyester suits and bow ties socialize over white zinfandel, speaking in string of acronyms and scientific colloquialisms. If I had a dollar for every bad pun or silly science joke I heard over the past 3 days, I'd be flying home in a private jet instead of this clown car called a commercial airliner.
This year I went to a session called, Mental Energy, because who wouldn't want to learn more about that?  "Yes please, I need more of that asap to perk up my EEG and bpms!"  (EEG = electroencephalography, aka brain activity and bpm = beats per minute, aka heart rate).

According to one of the presenters, well over half of all women over 30 feel like they need more energy.  So I thought I'd re-cap some of the more interesting learnings from the session for all the SHE's out there:

1. Caffeine is the only food substance that definitely stimulates energy.
2. About 15% of the population has a funky gene that makes it difficult for them to process caffeine.  These are folks that get amped up and jittery from just one cup of coffee.  My condolences to all of you with this funky gene, and apparently, you know who you are according to Dr. Dude.
3. There is a scientist from the UK that could be Paul Rudd's identical twin.  He is clearly not related or a fan of the actor because he did not laugh when I asked him if he likes "slappin' the base".
4. Dr. Paul Rudd's twin is doing research on how very small doses of certain herbal extracts might affect things like memory or attention.  It was hard to understand what he was talking about because he kept pronouncing the "h" in "herbal" when he should know that we call them "erbs" around these parts. 
5. Eating a breakfast consisting of slower digesting carbohydrates (e.g., oatmeal) or low in carbohydrates (e.g., eggs) helps your memory and attention later in the day, but only a little bit.  You're better off with a cup of coffee or tea.
6. Exercise also increases mental energy, although no one really wanted to talk about that very much.  Too much effort, I guess
7. All of the Dr. Dorks/Scientists presenting in the session on mental energy appeared to be lacking energy themselves (Dr. Monotones...all of them).  This leads me to believe that they are in the 15% of people that cannot tolerate caffeine, and therefore they have dedicated their lives to finding other foods to help them be high-energy people instead of robots.  Rock on Dr. Robots!  Maybe if you come up with something that directly competes with caffeine, my latte will only cost $2 instead of $6.   

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Kitten (almost) Named Botox

I have no shame in admitting the following: 1) I like cats and 2) I'm intrigued by Botox.  They are actually really similar if you think about it.  They both make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, they are both expensive, and they both seem to fill a void as you get older.  

In January, my long-time feline companion died just short of 16 years of age.  Not only was she my work-at-home lap blanket, but she was there to kick off the beginning of my adulthood, pre-dating my husband and 3 children and all of the "life" in between.  

I did not believe in the concept of a mid-life crisis until I lost that cat and then subsequently, my mind.  Yes, I have a dog and she's fabulous, almost like my soul mate.  We have so much in common, including long walks outside, despising inclement weather, and going to the bathroom in the house.  But I felt like I was deserving of a new cat.  And not just any cat, but the kind of cat you see in James Bond movies...a Fancy Feast-type of cat.  These cats do not come cheap (and mind you, I have never paid a cent for any of my cats...they were the free kind...the ones that desperately need homes...the ones that are in need of insane cat-loving people like me).

Botox is also not cheap.  According to my research, it's about $250/syringe and if you're lucky, you only need one syringe.  The thing is, it only lasts for 3-4 months.  So I was faced with a I invest in a new kitty that could make me happy for 16+ years or do I opt for the Botox that could make me happy for such a short time.  It was a tough decision!

In the end, a half bottle of wine made the decision for me.  I happened to be at my computer, looking up breeders one night and in a half second, I had pay-pal'ed my way to our new addition, Pussy Willow Sanchez (named by my husband/kids).  In her own way, she has taken years off my face (but added them to my legs...those claws hurt!).  What she lacks in brains, she makes up for in beauty.  And if anyone in the movie industry is reading this, I would gladly exchange her appearance fee for 2 syringes of Botox.  

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Nutritionista: Why Lack of Sleep Makes you Fat (and Stupid)

I should probably be blogging about Earth Day, and how healthy eating is good for the environment and on the virtues of eating locally grown produce, and why if you live in New York, it's more environmentally friendly to drink European wines than domestic, blah, blah, blah.  I will save that for another day, because really, shouldn't every day be Earth Day? 
Instead, I feel compelled to talk about lack of sleep.  Why?  Because one of the special gifts of children is that they almost always get sick at the same time (especially twins) and the vomiting always starts between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.  And even after all of these years, my twins still have very poor aim, requiring me to wash down the bathroom wall around 3:30 a.m.  Needless to say, it was a long night short on sleep.

One of the upsides and downsides of being The Nutritionista is that I am "in the know".  I have read the clinical trials where they have study participants sleep for 4 hours.  It's a recipe for disaster.  Here are the highlights:
  • Tired people move around less (duh).  Less movement = fewer calories burned during the day.
  • Tired people eat more (~22% in one study).  More food = more calories consumed during the day.  
  • Tired people eat more crappy food.  (Duh.  Who wants to stand around and whip up a healthy homecooked meal when you can barely see?  Not SHE!)  
  • And no scientific study needs to validate the fact that my brain is operating on only 1-2 neurons right now.  I should not be operating heavy machinery and am feeling like my laptop should be included in that category right now.  Is any of this making sense?
I'm so crazy that I just bought this pair of sandals from Piperlime for 20% off (coupon code: SWEET):

Aren't they the cutest pair of pink wedges you've ever seen? 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

After the Cleanse: Sakura Collection Veuve Cliquot Rose

I think it's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.  I'm welling up with emotion.  I cannot decide if I like this set better....
 which comes with a fancy schmancy box and 2 plastic flutes or this one...
 which comes with a wrap to keep it cool (what I called a "champ-phylactic" a prophylactic for your champagne).  I didn't think it was possible, but I now love Veuve even more!!!  If anyone finds this on sale, CALL ME!!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Nutritionista on Detox Diets and Cleanses

I am a nutritionist, although I prefer Nutritionista because it makes me sound like less of a dork and more like a SHE.  I spent 9 years in school (BS, MS, PhD) and then have worked in the field of nutrition research for the past 15 years.  I only say this because I hope that it gives me some shred of credibility for the bullet points I've outlined below. 

In the last few months, I've had many, many questions from friends about detox diets or cleanses.  This actually doesn't surprise me too much...SHE has a little more time on her hands, SHE may be hitting the bottle a little bit more at various parties and book clubs, and SHE may be indulging in all the yummies served at parties and book clubs.  SHE feels like she needs to detox, maybe lose a few pounds that have crept up, energize herself, improve her health to get back on track.  

There are various cleansing programs out there that you can either do on your own (mainly in the form of juices) or you can buy a program that overnights you all of your drinks/foods for a set period of time (usually 3-14 days).  I've looked into some of these now and just have a few points for your consideration, should you be thinking that you need to cleanse or detox yourself:
  • As a general rule, don't mess with your metabolism!!!  Many of these cleanses are only about 700 calories, which has the potential to mess with your metabolism.  Our metabolism naturally declines as we grow older and we certainly don't want to help that.  Try not to let your calories drop below 1200, or 1500 if you are taller than the average woman (>5ft 5in).  (You can always augment the cleanses with additional calories if needed).
  • As a general rule, don't mess up your colon!!!  Ask anyone who has irritable bowel syndrome or colitis, a bad colon makes life miserable (ie., diarrhea and anal leakage are not predictable events and are least likely to occur when you are in the comfort of your own home).  Stay clear of cleanses with lots of mystery ingredients.  Your colon prefers big boluses of fiber pushing through to keep it healthy. 
  • Many of these cleanses are just juice with infinitesimal amounts of herbs.  For example, one product has 503 mg of an herbal concoction that is supposed to help with weight loss.  One of the first ingredients is green tea.  It is true that green tea catechins (the antioxidant fraction of green tea) may increase metabolism, which may help with weight loss, but the active dose is about 500 mg of the catechins themselves...Green tea is only ~40% catechins by weight, which means there's not nearly enough of those catechins in the cleanse product to do anything. You could argue that there is some sort of synergism with all of these other ingredients that are mixed up with the green tea but I cannot find anywhere that these companies actually test their products...all those ingredients together may actually negate the effects of each one knows! 
I really could go on all day, but one important point I want to make is about "the placebo effect".  For some conditions (e.g., menopause symptoms), up to 60% of people will report a benefit from taking a sugar pill.  So there's a good chance that cleanses will make a difference for you just based on placebo effect alone.  Plus, if you have read the book, Freakonomics (and if you haven't, you should), the authors talk a lot about how people like to get good value for their dollar.  So if you spend $300 for a 3-day cleanse that you really believe will give you energy and cure all that ails you, you probably will feel that way.  Otherwise, you would have made a bad decision and we all know that we don't like to be wrong.  SHE is always right.

I have drafted up my own cleanse diet that is actually based on science.  I need to give it a dry run, but am happy to share it with others.  It includes lots of green leafy vegetables, which are known to ramp up the enzymes that detoxify chemicals in our body.  It is also full of fiber (beans, legumes) to make your colon happy and keep you feeling full.  And it includes caffeine...because who could ever feel happy and energized without it?  Not SHE!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The "Family Dog"...yeah right

With the advent of Spring, I've noticed a lot more puppies out there in the neighborhood!  Almost all of them are attached to a SHE!  Since I'm a dork, I mean scientist (really, the two are interchangeable), I started to ask a few questions.  These women claim their new additions are "family pets", purchased as companions for their children.  They didn't really want a dog or the responsibility that comes with it.  

So, I did a little research (I'm just screaming out the fact that I'm a dork) and here are some interesting statistics:
  • The majority of pet owners are females, aged 35 to 49 yr.  (This is The Decade of She sweet spot)
  • 39% of households have dogs, with the average house owning 1.7 dogs.  (I actually own 0.7 dogs, so there you go...picture below)
  • 33% of households have a cat, with the average cat owner having 2.5 cats.  (I have to believe this number is skewed by these strange people that house 25 of them at a time...I know no one with 3 or more you?)
  • People who own dogs have lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and lower body weight but tend to have more mental health problems.  (This mental health thing is totally odd and may just be a chance finding...but see pictures below and let me know what you think)
So I am thinking, SHE likes having pets!!!  What do you think?

Here's my pooch, Nala.  She's a puggle, taurus, who loves eviscerating stuffed animals and wearing babushkas.  They look fantastic with her doggie snuggie and underbite.  

This is Farrah.  This picture almost looks like the front of a Hallmark card, but it is in fact the pooch of a friend of mine wearing a tutu.  Looks just like a family dog, right?  (I think my friend likes her A LOT!)  Farrah is a rotund, good natured bulldog who likes to walk without a leash.
This is Sophie Belle.  She is so special, she has two names!  If I could be reincarnated as anything, it would be Sophie Belle.  She is pampered and loved more than any creature I know.  She likes having her nails painted, being carried around, and just being a treasure!

This is Holly.  Not all SHE's are into dogs.  I'm not sure her owner  loves this frog, but I love this picture.  What a ham!  Holly doesn't like to talk about it, but she was fantastic in The Princess and the Frog.    

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My house is being repossessed!

In the last 6 months, I have started to repossess my own home.  This involves:
1. Moving all toys out of the living areas and into bedrooms and playrooms (with the exception of adorably cute art projects and books).
2. Tossing out enormous eyesores that have been masquerading as furniture for the past decade. 
3. Acquiring new pieces of furniture and decor that I have personally selected for my home for the sole reason that I like them (and not because they are free, a good fit with children, or so cheap I can't pass them up).
4. Masking existing furniture eyesores that I cannot really afford to replace right now.

My latest initiative has been to acquire pillows.  I figure that if I get enough pillows, I will forget how ugly the couches and chairs really are.  At this point, I've purchased about 10 pillows and feel like I'm a bit of an expert.  I've bought them from retail stores, on-line shopping groups, and my new favorite, 

If you're not an shopper yet, you should be!  People make and sell a lot of really cool stuff!  Like pillows!  Like smelly body lotions!  Even pasties!  (I only know this because sends out a newsletter and much to my suprise, there are a lot of people at home sewing pasties in different colors and shapes...who knew?)

If you are in the market for pillows, my absolute favorite pillows are from the esty shop,  Not only are they beautiful, but they come wrapped up like a present.  It's just like my birthday or mother's day.... I select the gift,  I pay for the gift, someone else wraps the gift and gives it to me.  "Why that's exactly what I wanted!  How did you know?"  Best part, they are reasonably priced.

Here's my awesome new pilled from Mary Gamelin.  See, even though I'm moving all of their crap out of my house, I still like like them enough to buy a pillow in their honor.

Monday, April 12, 2010

When Coffee Almost Turned Deadly

Like most things in the world of nutrition, the reputation of coffee has done a 180.  It used to be vilified for it's addictive properties, causing stomach ulcers, and a few other nasties.  But recent research has shown that it reduces your risk of developing Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and gallstones.  Really, this is not that surprising since as a general rule, plants are good for you (with notable exceptions and some to much debate...can you say marijuana?).  

But coffee almost proved deadly one day at a local movie theater (Old Orchard for you locals).  A happy SHE was bringing her 3 kids to the latest kid's movie with talking rats or aliens or something...really, does it matter?  Anyway, like SHE always did, SHE stopped at Starbuck's for her overpriced, therapeutic latte...the only truly reasonable sedative for the matinee show.  However, unlike the previous 50 kid movies, SHE was told that SHE could no longer bring in her coffee.  It went like this:

Movie Person, "I'm sorry, but we no longer allow outside food or beverages into the theater."

SHE, "Um, why not?"

Movie Person, "I don't know, I just work here and take tickets."

SHE, "Do you sell coffee in your concession stand?"

Movie Person, "No."

SHE, "Do you sell hot tea?"

Movie Person, "No."

SHE, "So you're telling me that you do not sell coffee or tea, yet I cannot bring in my own?"

Movie Person, "Yes."

SHE, "Do you know it's 15 degrees outside?"

Movie Person, "Yes."

Manager of Theater, "Is there a problem?"

SHE, "Yes.  Can you explain to me the rationale for why you stopped allowing patrons, who are paying $9.50/ticket to watch crime-fighting gerbils, to bring in Starbuck's when you do not sell any hot beverages in your overpriced concession stand?"

Manager of Theater, "We recently changed our policy."

SHE, "Yes, I figured that out when the Movie Person told me that 5 seconds ago.  I'm looking for the reason?  Do you think I will now start buying $6 Cokes since I cannot bring in my coffee?  Do you think that I will buy more popcorn and candy in lieu of the coffee that I would have brought in?  Do you not understand how important this latte is to my overall movie enjoyment and my emotional health?"

Manager of Theater, "We will happily refund your money so you can leave."

SHE, "No, I'm going chug my hot coffee and then talk about your stupid policy, which discriminates against women who drink coffee, on my blog.  I hope you get gallstones!"

Friday, April 9, 2010

Smart Women Drink More Cocktails

Last week, scientists out of the UK published a study showing that people with more education were more likely to consume alcoholic beverages than those with less education.  This was especially true for women.  This raises the question...why do smart women drink more alcoholic beverages?

A logical answer would be that educated women make more money, on average, and can therefore afford a luxury like alcohol.  Or, some women (who are much brighter than me) may have been so smart, that they married into money and can afford a luxury like alcohol (and Botox, and a summer home, and a gardener, etc.)  Or, and this is quite possible in a study like this, drinking alcohol actually MAKES you smarter!  

Now that might not seem logical, but I don't think it should be ruled out.  On several occasions, I surprise myself with what comes out of my mouth after one or two glasses of wine.  In fact, I also find that other people sound smarter after I've had a few cocktails.  

So, this got me thinking about the drinking practices of SHE:

  • According to Gallup polls, about two-thirds of women drink alcohol, with about 25% saying they had a drink in the last 24 hours.  (I'm in that 25%)
  • About 50% of women choose wine over other beverages. (Yeah, guilty)
  • In the United States, almost three times as many men (9.8 million) as women (3.9 million) abuse alcohol or are alcohol-dependent.  (Does not apply to me and my heart goes out to these people and their families...icky stuff)
  • Based on 2008 statistics, three of the top 10 wines consumed in the US were White Zinfandel.  (Seriously?  I implore all White Zinfandel drinkers to immediately switch over to Pinot's a good one to try...immediately...really, don't let anyone see you drinking White Zinfandel ever again...I'm doing you a me.  This same advice applies if you're reading this with a wine cooler in your hand.)

  • There were NO red wines in the top 10 list!  (I'm on a one women crusade to change this...keeping in mind the 3rd bullet above)
  • A bottle of wine is approximately 600 calories.  (This is equivalent to ~6 miles of running, which I think is totally doable and reasonable penance)
  • My Pottery Barn wine glass holds ~1/3 of a bottle of wine, which is equal to 230 calories.  (This would explain the appearance of my "muffin top"....and clearly means that I need to start running again)

(No, this is not me...I wish I looked that good...and could pull off a tube top)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

In the last 10 months, I've read more books than I have in the past 10 years. Why so few books?  I've narrowed it down to two primary reasons: 1) Lack of time...three kids + full-time job = zero free time; 2) BORING BOOKS! I thought I should only be reading non-fiction, educational books in my limited free time. It was free-time-torture!

Then last year, I read the Twilight series after heavy badgering from my sister. I was laughing out loud at several places....can you say vampire baby? But secretly, I read all four books in less than three days. I jumped in hook-line-and-sinker into the realm of fiction...embracing vampire babies like one of my own.

Recently, I've seen a lot of women around town toting the book, The Help. I immediately had a vision of this book, sitting prominently in the self-help section of my local Borders, trying to entice any who are in need of a good cry or divine intervention.  I am in need of neither (or more accurately, I would never admit to being in need of either).  When I have my nervous breakdown, I want it to come out of nowhere. 

But a dear friend dropped it off and I just finished reading it last night.  In fact, this book has nothing to with self-help and everything to do with race relations in the a good way. The author has a spectacular way with words on a very controversial subject.  I was sad when it was over and I look forward to the authors next novel...even if it is a self-help book.


Want something lighter?  Here's another great read by Lauren Weisberger, the SHE that brought us The Devil Wears Prada.  It's yummy...not as yummy as Edward (dare I say it), but will leave you hungry for more.

Chasing Harry Winston

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Decade of She is born

It was Deb's 39th birthday. She hosted a party of her close friends. It was in front of these witnesses that she declared her 39th year of life, The Year of Deb. It was to be year where she picked up where she left off years earlier, before getting married and having kids. Where she started to think about what she could do for herself versus her family. Where she set goals to try new activities, read more books, cook something other than another pasta dish for her 4 kids. This concept of taking back control over one's life lit a fire in my belly. What goals did I set aside when I started my family? What goals do I want to accomplish between now and my own forever? How do I live life to the fullest, knowing that life is so unpredictable? A year is too short. I want a decade. I'm getting back behind the driver's seat (of course, it's still in a minivan) and mapping out my future. I hereby declare it, The Decade of She. For the first time in a long while, it's all about "she".