Pitch Your Old Stuff

January 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Family, Healthy

By: Susan Howard

A client of mine lost about ten pounds last year and is holding strong to her new fighting weight.  “I am done,” she exclaimed.  “I am tired of gaining and losing the same ten pounds.  This time is the last.”  There was something very definitive about how she pronounced the end of the games she plays with her weight.  She is tossing away that habit.  Gone.

Another client who is now down a full clothes size was going through her closet realizing a bunch of stuff doesn’t fit -it’s too baggy.  “Give it away,” I tell her.  “I know,” she laments.  “But what if I gain it back, then I’ll have nothing to wear?” Exactly. First of all, the old stuff is probably out of style, and either way it fits the old you -not the one you are becoming.  Also, if you are frugal like I am and hate to spend money, then it could serve as an extra incentive to keep the pounds off.

Allow yourself to change, make changes, and then step into the new version of who you’ve become.

Creating new habits takes effort, making little decisions each day that culminate into a larger metamorphosis.  Only by exorcising your old self can you clear a space for the new you to be born.  Can I get a Hallelujah?

Let’s stay open and also take charge of 2013.  It is all inside you to have -whatever year you decide.  Make a choice and stick to it, be unwavering, be fierce.  You got this.  Now go get a garbage bag and throw out your old stuff or, even better, donate it.

A question to you the reader: have you been successful at losing weight and keeping it off?  If you have, let me know what worked in your transformation by commenting below.


Peace out.


Men Are From Mars, My Son Found His Penis

January 3, 2013 by  
Filed under Same Sex Parent

By Susan Howard



It was a common, brisk afternoon when inspiration struck.  The day started innocently; morning bottles, burps, tug-o-war with his sister, normal baby fare.  During an unsuspecting diaper change, he did it.  He reached DOWN, the first of a lifetime of reaches.  Curious, he lay examining himself, eyes blank, but thinking.  I wait for a moment.  “This is exploration, this is normal, I am a cool mom, I’ll give him a second to process,” I think to myself.  He proceeded expressionless but pointedly grabbing the balls…and the whole situation, really.

After a spell I put on the clean diaper.  He grabs there, unsure where his new friend went.  “That’s your weiner schnitzel,” I say out loud.  “Weiner schnitzel?” Brandy later scolds me.  “Well what should I call it?”  Remember, I am a lesbian, not a man hating one, but somewhat dick averse.  Honestly I don’t know much about the thing accept that my college boyfriend had blue balls because I held out on him so long.  (Sorry Patrick.)

So ignorance becomes fear, which leads to the horror that stands between my son, his weiner, and me.  Maybe there is an online class I could take.  To be fair I have a close gay guy friend that is scared of boobs.  In fact he had to quit his favorite spinning class because the well-endowed instructor kept bursting out of her sports bra during the hill climbs.   He couldn’t take it.

“Why didn’t you just call it a penis? That’s what it’s called! People don’t say ‘privates’ or ‘binkie’. They use the correct terms.”  My wife is such an adult.  Maybe I am from the 50’s. I tell my older daughter to wash her “area”.  “You’re such a prude,” my wife continues.  She revels in any opportunity to make me feel lame, apparently that’s not super hard to do.

I have always been curious about how straight women refer to the cock.  I’ve overheard women talking about girth versus length and which is more important.  Women battling back and forth. I think girth won out in the end.  I had nothing to contribute to the conversation, which is likely why I never get invited to girls’ weekends in Arizona poolside with nail polish and margaritas.  It’s a straight girl thing.  My wife is straighter than I am.  For example she could tell a coworker that her boobs look great in a shirt, whereas, if I said that, Brandy would ask, “What are you looking at her for?”

Back to the package. For now we have no real activity, other than most diaper changes, which are a practice in self exploration, and all before he even turned one.  I am proud of the little bugger and his little member.  I don’t think I have cost him too much in therapy so far.  My shrink bill, conversely, is going up.


Fitness: Flights of Fancy

December 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Family, Healthy

By Susan Howard, Personal Trainer

Decades ago NIKE coined the phrase “Just Do It.”  Lately my workouts have become less and less significant, in that by the afternoon I can’t totally recall having done one or not.  Then I think back to the wee hour that I stumbled on to the treadmill, or up the canyon or I feel soreness in my abs and I think oh yeah I think I did workout.

For this last six months I have been committing to working out everyday for 20 to 60 minutes.  I say “everyday” allowing myself flexibility to mess up, still making it 5 or 6 workouts a week.   Traditionally I hate working out in the morning, but I realize that for consistency’s sake that is the only way I will get it done.  Also working out on an empty stomach is my optimum, although not recommended.

If you are a child growing up in India you likely practice yoga in the morning before heading off to school. The Chinese have their Tai Chi to start their day. We have Starbucks and Frosted Flakes.  In this country, it feels like there are two camps: the super fit Ultra Marathoners or the couch potatoes.   So American…we want to go big or go home.

I urge you this next year to take your resolutions pen out, and commit to working out everyday 20 to 60 minutes.  Each workout won’t be your hardest one.  They will likely become less of a big deal either way.  You will form a habit, a pattern that is just the backdrop of your everyday.  As you move through life a bit sharper and resonating health and wellness, it will merely be how you roll.

Create consistency in your life and energy in your body, I promise you will feel better than last year.    I wish this for you my readers if I could wish anything.  It’s not a big deal, it’s not monumental, start small if you’ve been out of commission in the fitness front.  Don’t ask yourself if you are in the mood or not.

Just Do It.

20 minute blast advanced:

60 jumping jacks

10 decline pushups / feet high, hands low

30 crunches / straight leg, toe reaches

40 mountain climbers / top of the push up alternate marching legs

20 deep squats / feet hips distance, slightly turned out

Rest 1 minute repeat 5 times.


Fitness Tip: DROP IT

December 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Healthy

By Susan Howard, Personal Trainer


Drop it like a hot potato.

A lot of times my blogs are of spirit and inspiration; this one is about getting CUT UP.  So take note, print this one and take if with you to the gym.

Drop sets mean exactly that: you start with one weight, you drop them down and pick up different weights –lighter ones– and repeat the same move.

Let’s take a chest press for example.  Pick up a fairly heavy weight; chicks might use 20 lb/10 lb and dudes maybe 50 lb/30 lb dumbbells.  Your first set is 10 reps. Then, without stopping, drop down the heavies and grab the lighter set for 10 more reps. Rest for one minute, then go again, and then go again.  Three sets in all.  The first set you are working power; the drop set gets you more into muscular endurance.

You should try this pattern with rows, pull downs, curls, shoulder presses,  and squats. You could even do a weighted crunch, then a drop the weight and do the same move using only your body weight.

Okay stop reading and get dropping.


Healthy Eating: Don’t Be a Twinkie

November 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Healthy

By Susan Howard, Fitness Expert

After over 90 years’ of yellow “cake” and “cream” filling the Twinkie has left the building.  I repeat: the Twinkie has left the building.  A few years ago Wonderbread became extinct and now Hostess is taking the fall.  No one seems to be bemoaning the disappearance of Ding Dongs, Zingers, or Sno Balls.  Maybe the fruit pies aren’t as important as I made them out to be when I was ten years old, surveying the vending machine, hoping there was a chocolate filled pie (rare but not impossible to find).

I do look back with fondness upon all these spongy treats.  When I say spongy I mean directly derived from a kitchen sponge, soaked in high fructose corn syrup, and then glazed, powdered - or in this case injected- with a white waxy chemical we have all agreed to call “cream filling”. The comforting thing about Hostess is you could search and search and never find a whole grain.

Let’s face it, there is something magical about finding a silver-wrapped Ding Dong in your lunch bag.  Your mother loves you.  While Little Debbies signified ordinary, a Twinkie is right up there with a Snack Pack pudding in the super legit category.

While I am deeply saddened by the loss of jobs in the U.S. plants (over 18,000 of them), I am hopeful that consumers are expecting more from their products.   With all the trendy “farm to table” restaurants showing up in Los Angeles, I can only assume people are craving food that is something, that comes from somewhere with a cow or a pasture.  A place much less complicated than a factory.


Tater Tots Not! Healthy Habits for Kids

October 2, 2012 by  
Filed under Family, Healthy, Kids

By Susan Howard

This is Part Two of my Tater Tot series where I suggest ways for you to keep your child at a healthy weight and instill in them good habits for years to come.

Never tell your child to eat everything on her plate. Teach her to listen to her body’s natural cues of hunger and fullness.  Let her be in charge of taking inventory as much as possible.

Fill their plates with tons of colorful nutritious options and then let them decide how much of what they eat.  Our pediatrician, Dr. Liddy, told us kids will self-regulate if given the chance.  Isn’t that what you ultimately want? When they are out of the house you aren’t going to be there telling them to finish their veggies (unless they are still in the house after college, which seems common these days, but that’s a different story).

Teach them about what food does.  Brandy is tireless in explaining to the kids that protein builds muscles, milk helps bones get strong, carbohydrates give energy, and veggies give vitamins to see and keep you feeling good.  It doesn’t have to be too complex - simple stuff like “that broccoli has fiber in it so you can poop.”  Then they understand what a balanced diet is and why they need it.

Take them to local farmers’ markets, farms, and berry picking spots.  Teach them that food doesn’t come from a package; it comes from the ground or a pasture.  Allow your children to have a connection with what real food is.  No it’s not in a Twinkie wrapper.

Plant a garden. Herbs are an easy way to start.  And let your kids help!  My daughter loves dirt and worms and being a little pioneer toddler; she’s a regular Laura Ingalls. She also now loves basil, parsley, and rosemary, and can pick it right off the vine.

Cook with your kids.  Start with something easy that involves a lot of stirring and pouring.  A fun recipe to try is basically penne pasta, veggies, and cheese in a muffin tin –super easy pasta muffins!

Make healthy foods flavorful.  Take a cooking class, buy a new cookbook, watch the Food Network.  If your kids aren’t eating it, up your game.

Limit excessive television watching.  One of my clients just told me her house rule: if the sun is out no television.  I like that because it seems to encourage kids to take on the day and be active.

Inquire about the hot lunch program at your school.  Be involved! Try to link fresh produce with the cafeteria.  It is a battle worth fighting for.


Feeding Your Tot Tater Tots

September 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Healthy, Kids

By Susan Howard

Over half our country is considered overweight or obese.   We keep hearing these statistics about how fat Americans are, but how can we as parents do anything about the next generation of potential weeble wobbles?  Here are a few tactics to keep your little ones from turning into bigger ones.

Lead by example; make healthy food choices a part of your day to day regimen.

Put out a colorful bowl of fresh fruit that is visible to your family.

Let your children see you be physically active.  Be it swimming, running, weightlifting, hiking –whichever you pick, make it consistent.

My daughter sees me lace up my shoes and she asks, “Are you going for a run, Mom?”   At four and a half she is already asking if she can try and run with me.  They want to do what you do.  You are their mentor.

Be active with your children.  Coach their soccer team, practice playing catch in the backyard, or let your kid ride their bike while you run.

Create fitness traditions.   Sunday afternoon family bike ride, Thanksgiving morning 5k, Parent and me yoga, after dinner basketball hoops. Many of my clients get in an extra workout with their children by running with them at soccer practice, doing baseball drills, hitting tennis balls back and forth, you name it.  Nothing gives me more joy than to see parents passing the torch of wellness on.

Never eat out of a container.  Make yourself a plate with a portion on it!

(Confession: I mess this one up sometimes.)

Wait as long as humanly possible to introduce soda, or better yet don’t introduce it at all.  Even with the huge cash flow in soda companies I have never read anything good about it.  One would think they could find SOMETHING.  They can afford to hire scientist to try test after test.  Likely there is nothing to uncover except rotten teeth and obese kids.

Throw in some protein for most meals.  If you have a kid who likes eggs, that’s a great way for them to start their day.  Peanut butter and a cut-up apple is an easy treat, cheese sticks or yogurt.  You could try pieces of chicken with a mound of shredded cheese.

Offer veggies as often as possible, make it with something they like, put a thin pad of butter on top or sprinkled cheese.  Use spices as well; many kids (not all) like flavor.

If one parent is obese in your family, your child has a 40% chance of being obese. If both parents are obese, your child has an 80% chance of being obese.

Let’s tip the scale in the right direction.  We can inspire ourselves and our little ones.  They are watching you, believe me.


Jennifer Aniston’s New Diet

August 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Family, Healthy

By: Susan Howard


Some friends came over for a BBQ this weekend and the wife of the couple started talking about a celebrity trainer, and a diet they were recommending.  Something about pitted fruit being the only good kind to eat and at all costs avoid melons and pineapple as well.  No pitted fruits…all of our guests start making mental notes.

After everyone had left I turn to Brandy and said, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.  Why is our friend talking about that?” “I think she read it.” Brandy said casually.   “Well it’s wrong and it’s stupid,” I say.  “Why are you getting so mad?” she innocently asked.

Here’s why.  When I hear educated people in fear of fruit it makes me mad.

I laughed with my client Melissa, who puts up with my tirades several mornings a week.  “I don’t think the over consumption of fresh fruit is contributing to the obesity epidemic,” she retorted.


I’ve decided people don’t want to know the truth.  They don’t want to hear about fresh produce, whole grains, and lean protein.  They couldn’t care less about exercising five to six days a week for 20 to 60 minutes.  They want stories about pitted fruit.  They want 3 easy moves to flatten your tummy while sipping a cocktail in Cabo.

To be fair, until about five years ago, nutritionists -not celebrity trainers- talked about the high glycemic levels of certain fruits (bananas and watermelon being two of the no no’s).  Of late, that theory, which I’ve always found ridiculous, has been disavowed because of all the amazing proponents these foods have.  Potassium, vitamin C, and all the antioxidants and minerals each variety offers.

I will agree that most juices allow you to take in too much fruit at once, so eat your fruits whole.

Other than that, have a Fruitopia cornucopia of whatever you want!  In California right now everything is so fresh –pineapple, plums, blueberries, kiwi.  You can go wild.

Yes, I am mad, I am mad because I want to help you, the reader, find success, feel good in your body and have an energetic life.  I feel mad because there is so much misinformation out there that’s it’s impossible to weed through and find the truth.  The truth isn’t sexy and fun, it’s boring and hum drum and I couldn’t give a shit if Jennifer Aniston eats pitted fruit or not.  A lot of these celebrities go to major extremes skipping meals, doing several workouts a day to look like 13-year-old boys.  Well hats off to you! Tighten another notch on your size zero belt, I am going to have some watermelon.

No routine this week; I am too pissed.


Bye Bye Super Size

August 1, 2012 by  
Filed under Healthy

By: Susan Howard

I love my wife, so when she asks her health obsessed trainer (that’s me) to pick her up a Mc Flurry from McDonald’s, I comply.  She is breastfeeding twins after all and who am I to deny her? She keeps it together, it’s the least I could do.

Newsflash: apparently there is a Rolo Mc Flurry that has been added to the fast food giant’s list of high caloric items.  I drive through and order my Rolo Mc Flurry and before I pull away am asked by the voice on the intercom, “Would you like the snack size?”  “What, uh yeah I want that.”  Just then in that exact moment I saw a small flickering light at the end of our country’s obesity epidemic.

Snack size means small, a reasonable portion, a snack, a treat.  If you recall in the 2003 documentary Super Size Me, the staff had been trained to try and up sell items costing merely a quarter more for two times the amount.  Now, in 2012 I was asked if I wanted a SMALL at McDonald’s.

Yes, yes I do.

Upon further inspection of the menu there is a list of items under 300 calories.  Yes I am still at the Mc Donald’s drive through window.  On that list includes the egg mc muffin which I have long told clients is a win, if you can bypass the belly busting hash browns.

Was it Paula Deans Diabetic scare?  Michelle Obama’s awesome arms?  Did someone in corporate just start to feel bad for helping to make our children super sized with a Sponge Bob toy, chicken nuggets, a wink, and a smile?  Maybe they just felt so ultimately dumb being singled out as promoters of obesity.  Even with the charitable work Ronald Mc Donald House has done, it’s definitely overshadowed by the Big-Mac-eating-coke-a-cola-drinking-XXL-children of our generation.

I try and keep an open mind and while I am not saying Mc Donald’s is the new Whole Foods, any flag waving in the breeze of wellness makes me smile.  You deserve a break today.

Yoga For Tight Guys

This is Move One in a series of moves that I will be showing you so you can do cool yoga poses even if you are tight.

Downward Dog

Come onto your hands and feet putting yourself in a V position, butt to the sky on a decline with your feet low, hands high (you could also put your hands on a stair).  Lengthen your legs and offer your chest through your arms towards your thighs.  Take your feet wide apart if you are super tight.  To work your back, bend your knees and straighten your spine.


Meanie Trainer Makes a Retraction

July 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Healthy

By: Susan Howard

I fear I was a bit negative in my last blog, telling you, the reader, that if you want to eat a nacho you’d better go climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to burn off all that extra calorie intake.  I feel bad, truly I do, for making food the enemy and asking you to have boundless will power.  And for basically being a meanie.

So this time I thought I would give you some positive tactics to stave off weight gain while still having a life.

  1. Start your day with eggs.  Protein at the beginning of the day helps to keep your glycogen levels even throughout the day, so you are less likely to crave sugary treats.  Hardboiled egg whites are best, 17 calories each, but whichever way you like is good with me.
  2. Order a starter salad at meals.  Studies show people that order salad are 20 percent less likely to overeat during the meal.  Also this can help you not eat the entire breadbasket, since you know a salad is coming.
  3. Pace.  Fidgeting, toe tapping, and standing are all calorie burners.  Want to stay trim?  Drink too many espressos and jitter away.
  4. Play.  Go in your backyard or to the park and play with your little ones or your big ones: Frisbee, catch, tag.  “You’re it.” “No, you are.”
  5. If you’re hungry, drink water first; you may be thirsty.  People tend to be dehydrated, plus your skin will glow.
  6. Clear your house of nutrient-void junk you don’t want to eat.  You can take yourself or your kids out for a special treat, but gallons of ice cream need not reside in your freezer.
  7. Use garlic, fresh herbs, shallots, ginger, whatever spices you like to tempt yourself to eat green vegetables.  Once they turn bright green stop the cooking so they are nice and fresh, don’t let them get all brown and mushy.
  8. Take walks.  Create a walking or bike riding habit.
  9. If you take in too many calories one day, so what.  Just try and get back on track.  Go to Whole Foods and spend too much cash on a bunch of healthy options for the next day.

10. Give thanks.  Appreciate your body for what it is. Show off the parts you love and make peace with the squishy parts -it’s all you.


Workout: Push ups (try to do 6 sets of 10)

10 Incline (hands on stairs, feet on ground)

Rest for 30 seconds

10 Flat (hands and feet on ground)

Rest for 30 seconds

10 Decline (feet on stairs, hands on ground)

Rest for 1 minute

Repeat 2 more times for a total of 6 sets.


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