#12: Clear Your Clutter

It’s time to face your internal clutter.

Maybe some of you are familiar with this New Year’s resolution: Clean out the house and keep it clutter-free. It is hard work to keep the house uncluttered when you’re busy, and even more so when you’re busy and have children. When you work, too, well, it’s almost easier to just give up.

But don’t. When you live in a cluttered home, you hold clutter on the inside, too. In fact, when you visit a person’s home and it’s just stuff everywhere, you can tell a lot about that person. Not that he or she is necessarily dirty or lazy, but that he or she likely has some unresolved issues. It’s true: Clutter is only a surface expression of a deeper issue. When you keep your home organized and clean, your heart and mind are more free and available to the people and things that are important to you.

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#8: The (Too) Skinny

How do we stay on the safe side of skinny?

I caught Portia De Rossi (now Degeneres) on Oprah the other day. She was discussing her new memoir, called Unbearable Lightness. Who knew she’d had such a desperate relationship with food not so long ago? Well, okay, we all did, if we watched Ally McBeal, but I didn’t understand that the actresses we rolled our eyes at, saying they were too skinny, actually had serious eating disorders. When Portia hit her lowest point, she was 82 pounds!

It struck me as I listened to her talk how very hard it is, for a lot of people, to watch what they eat and stay mentally healthy about it. Once you’re “watching what you eat,” maybe counting calories, it’s not terribly difficult to see how you might get a little too into it, and start flirting with bulimia, deprivation, or at least obsession. I realize I’m lucky because it isn’t hard for me to be moderate in most things I do. I have pretty fierce willpower, so I can say no to dessert if I want to. But what makes it so much easier is that I usually say yes. I just stop after one cookie instead of eating two or three or a whole box. It sounds so easy, I know.

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#4: New Food Yays and Nays

A couple weeks into a kinder diet: a check-in

There are a bunch of new foods in my life: so which ones get the thumbs up so far? Yay for Vegenaise. It’s pricey, but so worth it. Real mayo is pretty sketchy, but Vegenaise has substance and flavor, and of course, is dairy-free! Big huge thumbs up for Whole Soy yogurt. Mmmmmmmm. Love. And oh my gosh, try Trader Joe’s Cherry Chocolate Chip Soy Ice Cream even if you don’t care at all about dairy. It is deLIcious.

As I dabble in the dairy-free cheese category, I’m not quite so dazzled. First we went through some products that were deceptive—we learned that just because a food says soy-based does NOT mean it contains no dairy (why? really—why?). So then we moved on to rice cheese slices and 100% dairy-free shredded cheese. I’m okay with them, but certainly not wowed. I’m tempted to let those slide in future. Dairy-free milk I can do. I’m loving all the different options: rice, soy and almond. I think I’ll stick to rice milk, though, since it’s one thing that’s NOT soy, and it’s made of such basic ingredients. It also tastes very yummy in my oatmeal.

Now we’ve expanded our “kind diet” to phasing out white sugar products, too. Whole wheat graham crackers: yum. Agave syrup: yum. I think our taste buds learn to wrap themselves around the whole wheat, whole grain, brown rice type flavors, such that the old-school, easy and cheap stuff simply doesn’t hold the same place on the flavor pedestal any longer. There is just such an amazing heartiness to the whole grain flavors. I swear I’m not brainwashed, I’m just really tasting things these days! Stay tuned…

100 Things to Think About While Doing a Plank

Or: My relationship with my abs and beyond

It’s not easy to plank, but it’s one of the best exercises you can do without any props. Just you and the floor and your focus. That’s the hard part, the focus. I always say that exercising is not just physical, it’s also mental, and the plank is a fantastic example. When I plank with others, I often say “go to your happy place.” That’s my way of saying, take your mind off the exercise itself because your body can do it—it’s your brain that’s saying “I’m tired, I’m bored, I’ve done enough for today…” Transport yourself through conversation (as we do in class) or reading (as I sometimes do alone) or thinking about something other than holding yourself up in an admittedly uncomfortable position, and you CAN do a plank for a minute, or two, or even three.

Since I love to plank (or rather to have planked), and I certainly love to make others plank, I intend to share here 100 things to busy your mind so it won’t sabotage that wonderful plank.

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Get Your MILF On

On Getting Your Pre-Baby Body Back

The star trainer of “The Biggest Loser” says she won’t have a baby because “I can’t handle doing that to my body,” and much debate on the topic followed that comment. Though I don’t know that it’s worth worrying over–if one thing in this world is ours and ours alone to do with what we like it’s our bodies–but I do have an opinion about the body’s resiliency.

If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I’m having a tougher time getting my body back after the second baby. But I’m not discouraged–I’m challenged. I wonder that Jillian Michaels wouldn’t see the “fun” of the challenge, too…after all, wouldn’t it give her career a tremendous lift to show that she can grow big, give birth, then get fabulous again? That’s what I’m after. Working toward my pre-baby body, my determination is greater, and I’m pushing the limits of my energy and endurance. To me, this is fun. I’m so proud of myself when I can a) make the time to work out and b) work out hard even when I’m worn out from night feedings and the simple fact of having 2 young children. I get to get my fabulous back AND have little ones say, “Good night, Mommy.” That’s having my cake and eating it.

Truth be told, I’d happily forgo a two-piece swimsuit for the rest of my life if that were the tradeoff for having my amazing kids.

Battling the Baby Bulge: an update

Did I say I was cutting OUT wine? I meant to say I’m cutting DOWN on wine. I think that with a 3-year-old and a 3-month-old, I should be allowed one glass on Saturday night…

The experiment is affecting me in more ways than I expected. Just as working out in the morning can make you feel like eating a big salad for lunch, I’ve been much more vigorous in my exercising as a result of choosing water over wine at night.

Oh, I’m so over the extra belly fat! But it was such a long day…. Mommy deserves cabernet! Moderation….

Battling the Baby Bulge

My own fight to lose the final five

So now I get it–this is how it feels to be THIS close to pre-baby body. It seems like my body had more snap-backness after the first baby…this go-round I feel the pain of so many of my clients. I fit into my old clothes, but my shape is just not yet my own.

If it’s true that breastfeeding is making me hold on to that last bit of saggy skin, I’m willing to put up with it for the next year. But I’m not thoroughly convinced that’s all it is. So… even though I live by the words “everything in moderation,” I’m going to do an experiment: I’m cutting out wine for two weeks. It’s the one vice I have that I believe may in fact be a culprit in this battle, so I want to see if there’s a noticeable difference.

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#2: What would you give up in your diet if you had to pick one thing?

Could you give up dairy?

Are you up for the challenge? Could you give up dairy? I’ve started to read up on Alicia Silverstone’s Kind Diet. It’s “kind” to your body, to animals, and to the earth. I can’t find anything wrong with that so far. I’m already a pesce-vegetarian, so it doesn’t seem like a huge leap to cut out the other animal products, but I didn’t set out to be a vegan, so I’m not sure about all this. I like being able to find things to eat on any menu without having to ask for special treatment. And I don’t want to give up dairy, really. I just want to see if it’s true that I’ll feel lighter and have clearer skin and more energy… Sounds like it could be worth a try.

The good news: Mike’s into doing it with me. Whew! That will for sure make it easier. We’ve decided to try it for two weeks. Our babysitter is vegan; she says it will be easy. They make it all dairy-free now if you want it—we just have to get used to the taste and texture. So we’re cleaning house now. This is a home where every single person has our own special yogurt, including the baby. So we’re eating up the Greek yogurt (oh, how I shall miss you!), the snack cheese, the plain yogurt for cooking, the (already cage-free, vegetarian-fed) eggs…

As I get more into the book and the ugly truth behind why I’m trying this out, I’ll write about it. For now, I am interested because of how a dairy-free lifestyle supposedly makes you look and feel. (My life with two kids could certainly use a boost in the energy department!) I’ll let you know when we say “go”!