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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pace. Fidgeting, toe tapping, and standing are all calorie burners. Want to stay trim? Drink too many espressos and jitter away.
- 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.”
- If you’re hungry, drink water first; you may be thirsty. People tend to be dehydrated, plus your skin will glow.
- 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.
- 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.
- Take walks. Create a walking or bike riding habit.
- 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.
By: Susan Howard
“Both balls have dropped,” the delivery examining doctor declared at the hospital. “So that’s good.” I breathe a sigh of relief. Apparently my son has balls and that, no doubt, is a good thing.
It’s not that I was surprised that he has a penis or balls for that matter, it’s just well, curious. The balls, as stated, have dropped, but I wonder was there a chance they wouldn’t? If you only had one ball did the other ball ever exist? Meaning, could a ball get lost? Rest assured my son’s balls have safely found their way to the landing pad. Houston we have contact.
Let me go back a bit and explain why I am fairly clueless about the male appendage. First off I am a lesbian mom and until six months ago, the only boy in our family was our dog Bailey. He got his balls chopped off soon after he arrived. (Insert post-feminist joke here.) For what is left of his doggie package he lifts his leg to pee on a tree, when he gets excited the little lipstick comes out, and he is constantly licking himself under the guise of cleanliness. To which I shout, “Get out of your area Bailey, it’s too much!”
Why am I going into such detail about my dog’s weiner? Because I honestly have not spent much time with dude dicks. Much to my short-lived boyfriends’ frustrations I am ill versed at all things penis. Having had a girlfriend as a senior in high school, I am sort of like the 40-year-old virgin in straight terms. Weird.
You can imagine my dismay when my wife told me indeed we were having a boy. The first big decision on my son’s joystick’s behalf -to circumcise or not -weighed heavy on my wife and me. We went back and forth considering all the different trends, humanity, non-hygienic cheese curd, and ultimately (perhaps because of my Jewish upbringing and my obsession with the Food Network), we chopped.
Recently I questioned this decision. My sister’s first fling was during her studies abroad with an Italian man. I am guessing Vinnie’s member was full throttle. Would she have hopped on the back of his Vespa if it hadn’t been? A straight friend assured me I had done the right thing. “You did him a favor, nobody wants to deal with that. You just bought your son years of blow jobs.” Phew.
My wife, having been a full-fledged straight girl before flipping to the other side, is my main go to for answers, but even she looked aghast when our son was born just under five pounds with his balls being one of those five. “They’re so big, are they supposed be that big?” she asked. “I think it’s good, my son’s got cojones.” I say as I slap him on the face.
Being a veteran diaper changer with my daughter I honestly feared this the most; changing a boy could be quiet harrowing. Do I dab around? What parts need cleaning? Where do things get trapped, creating bacterial cess pools? For the first month every time I changed him he got mad, crying and looking at me accusatorily. Now I have come to believe that unlike my daughter with all her crevices and folds, my son is easier to clean. Everything is just out there and if I dab carefully he doesn’t even cry. He does pee on me on purpose no doubt, but so did my daughter. In fact my children love to pee on me. It’s an intramural sport for ages 0 to 1.
I have heard stories of friends with boys. “Wait till they stay in the bathroom for an hour with the shower running.” Ugh. I definitely need my own bar of soap. I know it will happen, all of it, I just don’t want to see it, or know about it. “You’re such a prude,” my wife laughs.
“Good. You can show him how to use a condom,” I retort.
By: Susan Howard
BURN 500 CALORIES NOW!
After over a decade of touting the benefits of working out for weight loss, I have come to realize that, unless you watch your diet, true weight loss will be an uphill battle.
Diet. I hate that word and I hope I am never on one.
As I use it here, I merely mean “calories in.”
Here’s why just exercise won’t work:
I’ll bet you aren’t going to celebrate finishing a big project at work by running a half marathon with your colleagues, but you might go to happy hour at TGI Fridays and slurp down three strawberry margaritas -1150 calories. (Many of their entrée items tip the 1000 calorie scale as well.)
In the middle of a huge fight with your significant other, you aren’t likely going to go on a 50-mile bike ride to console yourself, but you may eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk -1200 calories.
If you are feeling bored, lonely, tired, or any other emotion really, you probably won’t swim five miles, but you may very well eat a plate of chicken nachos at Baja Fresh -coming in at a whopping 2020 calories.
Point being this: it’s easier to unconsciously consume a large amount of calories, but likely you won’t accidentally burn a bunch. You aren’t going to turn around and say oh shit I just hiked for five hours; I was so angry, how’d that happen?
With restaurants and fast food chains serving such hugely portioned, high caloric fare, nobody’s got your back. (But me of course.) We as a nation are more obsessed with thinness, yet we are fatter than ever and growing. With Venti Cookie Frappuccinos coming in at 800 calories, Starbucks has become a malt shop disguised in a coffee suit.
The next time you are bummed out, down and out, out and about, falling down that slippery slope of food hell, grab a number and do a triathlon instead. Remember you got to pay to play.
How much should you eat in a day? Daily, women can take in about 1600 to 1900 calories and dudes should have about 1800 to 2200. This all depends on size and activity levels. How do I burn 500 calories, you ask? Don’t take them in. (If you do it will cost you one hour running on the treadmill.) There, they are gone.
Take a 30 minute walk after dinner, with your family, or a friend. You will digest your food better and it will set a great example for your kids. Make it a nightly ritual.
By: Susan Howard
DAY 3, THE LAST ONE
Am I euphoric, elated, joyous? No I am not. I have the rest of the day to consume
bottles upon bottles of beet, watercress, cucumber, romaine, and parsley juice.
Fresh Pressed makes a good tasting juice, I will admit; I just don’t want to drink
them. Did James Dean juice, did Picasso juice, did Jack Kerouac? No they didn’t
because juicing isn’t cool.
I realize that I love my coffee and a toasted bagel because that is cool. Good things
can happen after they have been consumed. You feel full, jittery even. You might go
skydiving, drive a cab, or play in a band. What happens on a cleanse? After drinking
my overpriced V8, I am home reading a book of short stories, I am doing research on
reptiles, I am 80 years old worrying about my bursitis. It’s killing me by the way.
THE FINAL NIGHT, THE LAST NON-SUPPER
I am nauseous, I wonder if all the “toxins” are suddenly coming out all at once. Are
the sour cream and onion potato chips I had in the eighth grade finally coming down
the pipeline? I really feel gross, I fear I am over-hydrated. There was this crazy
story that I read about a person running the Chicago marathon that actually died
from drinking too much water. No joke. Am I that person? Even the good tasting
almond milk is now a chore.
I am glad I did it, so I can say I did, but I don’t think juicing is for me.
First of all it’s too L.A.
Second of all it’s too much of a total chick thing. I am a chick, but not a total chick.
Lastly I really like to eat: cooking, chewing, crunching, and slurping -all of it.
I will say that the juices are very nutritious and one might swap out a meal or two
with a juice, but that is as far as I will go on this matter.
Did I end the cleanse and think, why don’t I just keep fasting like Ghandi?
No, no I did not.
The day after and final thoughts. I woke up on the next morning and strangely
broke the cleanse with juice. A client wanted me to try their juice from a nearby
store, so what the hell, against all odds I had some more.
Ultimately I got a wheat bagel with butter and a double latte, which was amazing, by
the way. The warm toasted bagel so chewy and delicious.
I did learn one thing, which is I am not hungry in the morning and I am not that
hungry at night. 11 am and 3:30 pm are the two times my stomach really growled
and I was especially pissed to be on the cleanse. So I think I will eat accordingly.
Also my skin looks super good. WATER: it’s a wonder.
Ultimately I would say give it a try, it’s only 3 days you big babies.
By: Susan Howard
I woke to red pee.
It’s the morning of my first juice cleanse day and I am already peeing red. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to last the full three days, so during the pre-cleanse phase not only did I omit coffee, but I did a few trial runs with carrot beet juice. Thus the pee. It took me a second to realize it though. Imagine.
Day One, I am having conversations with myself about food and if I ever really liked it in the first place, all that chewing and digesting, who needs it, so 80’s. I am hanging on to this mantra like a thin fraying rope.
The bottles are super pretty, and I, like any good American, am a sucker for good packaging.
Juice one tastes good, but is green in color, sort of weird in the am.
Pee two: red as well, plus a poop, normal looking.
I wish I could eat even a cracker.
More juice, more pee. Pineapple, apple mint juice is a treat that I enjoy at dinner time.
My pee is clear now, the kind of clear that looks like the toilet water. No yellow at all.
It’s 7:30 pm on Day One and I still have 3 juices left to drink! I am strangely determined to drink each one and to follow the program as closely as possible. Instead of little sips, I am aggressively gulping down the final drinks. One that was really looming: the chlorophyll H2O -a bright green water -actually doesn’t taste like the sea sludge I was expecting; in fact it doesn’t taste like much.
Ya know how when you do something really hard like sprinting up a hill, you don’t realize how hard it is until you stop, then it hits you and immediately you gasp for breath? That’s what gulping these juices is like. I can drink them down okay, it’s the aftermath that really gets me.
There is an almond milk juice that is my final one. I am really looking forward to it. At least that is something that sounds like something.
The conversations about the lack of necessity food has have ceased.
One last note: I pooped red. I wonder if the Russians have the same problem. I will have to ask my friend Boris.