You Make It, We Post It!

Written on September 15, 2014 at 4:58 pm , by

This week’s featured chef is Instagram user @sugarcoatedcali who made our seasonal dessert, Salted Caramel Apple Cake!

 Want to be featured here as next week’s chef?

Here’s how: Make a Family Circle recipe, take a photo and share it on Instagram by tagging @FamilyCircleMag and #FCMADEIT.

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Keep Your Naked Selfie Covered

Written on September 12, 2014 at 5:00 am , by

We’re used to hearing celebrities bare all in interviews and watching them bare all on movie screens. But this month, when news broke of hackers using the iCloud to leak nude photos of stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, many were shocked. How did the hackers pull it off? What other information could be hacked into? Who’s at risk? Aside from the obvious concerns about such a privacy breach, however, another issue loomed. Why take a naked photo?

Maybe it’s because I don’t even like to pose for, much less share, a photo of myself in a bathing suit sans cover-up. So I can’t help but wonder why folks want naked selfies.

One group worth approaching to answer that question: teenagers. Most teens sext to maintain or ignite a relationship, or are pressured into the behavior. A recent study indicated that more than 50% of college students sent sexually explicit texts—with or without photos—as minors. (About a quarter admitted to sending sexually explicit photographs.) These numbers would indicate that among young people sexting is increasing in prevalence. In fact, it has tripled or quadrupled in some ages and categories of teens over the past five years. Boys and girls sext at the same rate, but boys forward more.

As moms and dads, we need to shift our focus to parenting in the digital age. We need to talk to our children and teens about sending pictures, receiving pictures and passing them on. We need to tell them that not everyone is doing it and cyberspace does not have a button for forgiveness. Images that are deleted can be retrieved, and pictures that are sent can be passed along.

The message to our children and teens should be clear and consistent. Do not ever post or send a naked or half-naked selfie to anyone. Ever. They should delete images that are sent to them and not forward them. I want to remind young people that there are many ways to feel good about yourself: practice kindness to others, volunteer in schools and communities, simply contribute to the common good. But keep your naked selfie covered.

Have you talked to your child about sexting? Do you think your son or daughter would ever do it? Post a comment and tell me.

Janet Taylor, MD, MPH, a mother of four, is a psychiatrist in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @drjanet. Read more of her posts here.

Got a question for Dr. Janet? Email her at askdrjanet@familycircle.com.


The Downside of Dress Codes

Written on September 11, 2014 at 5:36 pm , by

A few days before I started sixth grade at a private school, I went with my mother to get my uniforms. While she beamed, I remember miserably pulling the green-and-white-striped dress over my head. My mother, like many parents to this day, believed that uniforms were the answer to stopping social competition among students and contributed to an overall positive school atmosphere.

But here’s the problem: Way too often administrators and teachers enforce their school’s dress code by disrespecting and shaming their students, as with a recent incident involving a superintendent in Oklahoma. Not only is this unethical but it contributes to a school environment where the children don’t trust the adults to exercise their authority ethically. What should be a moment in the hall of “Please take off your hat” or “That skirt is a little short” becomes a humiliating power struggle where the child has no opportunity to learn whatever lesson the adult believes they are trying to teach.

Before I go on, let’s articulate the standard arguments to support school uniforms and dress codes. It is said that they:

1. Set a standard for students that learning environments should be given respect and prepares them for a professional environment as adults.

2. Contribute to students respecting themselves.

3. Decrease materialism and social competition.

4. Stop children from wearing clothes that are offensive or promote illegal or unhealthy substances like drugs and alcohol.

5. Contribute to school spirit and unity.

On the face of it, all these goals are entirely reasonable. Unfortunately, uniforms aren’t a magic bullet to stop “fashion show” competition between students. Kids know who has more money either because the student boasts about it (which is common) or other people talk about it. If it’s important to a student to show how rich their family is, they will figure out a way to do so, from donning $300 headphones to sporting $200 sneakers to bragging about what cars their parents have.

What’s more, no matter how great the school or how well-intentioned the rules are, a dress code and the way it is enforced can mask double standards and abuse of power. For example, the way boys and girls get in trouble for violating dress codes is different. Boys get in trouble for wearing clothes that are “disrespectful.” However they define that (sagging and baggy pants, wearing a hat inside), far too many adults start the interaction with boys by using their power as an adult to dominate them in public (by yelling at them in the hallway in front of their peers). And if the boy doesn’t immediately comply, his behavior is seen as defiant and requiring punishment. I am not excusing bad manners, but adults need to have common sense when they talk to people with adolescent brains. No one likes to be called out in public—especially teens—and when you do that, the teachable moment is lost.

In contrast, girls get in trouble more often for violating the dress code and are usually accused of presenting themselves in sexually inappropriate ways. Girls who go through puberty earlier and/or are more voluptuous are also disproportionately targeted (which also disproportionately impacts African American and Latina girls). Yes, a girl with a voluptuous body can be distracting, but that doesn’t mean the male students around her should be held to such a low standard that they aren’t expected to treat her respectfully. Teaching girls to respect themselves should focus on being proud of who they are—not shaming them for looking sexually promiscuous. This is a teachable moment about your hopes for your girl.

If your kid’s school has a dress code, it’s critical to instruct your child how to accept the responsibility they have as a member of the school community while recognizing that sometimes the way the code is applied is unfair.

Whether you have a son or a daughter, here’s what you can say:

If someone talks to you about being out of dress code, do what they say. If you feel that they have been rude to you, I still want you to do what they say but then tell me and/or tell the administrator you trust the most. But if you’re genuinely confused about why you’re out of dress code, or what you’re wearing is important to you and it’s not communicating something rude or degrading about someone else, you have the right to respectfully ask why you are in violation. If you feel strongly about this, you can research your rights about freedom of expression in school and bring that to the administration. You may not get what you want, but it’s important to know your rights and I will support that.

 

Here’s what you should say specifically to your daughter:

This is difficult to speak about with you, but it’s important to me that I do. Your school has a dress code. For girls, that often means not presenting yourself in a sexual manner. I want you to be proud of your body and I never want you to be ashamed of it. But way more important to me than the dress code is you. You are a smart young woman with a lot to contribute to this world. Like all young women, you’re growing up in a world that dismisses your opinions and rights by trying to convince you that the most important thing about you is your physical appearance. Obviously, you are so much more than that. I want you to be proud and comfortable with how you look. But I also want you to be proud and comfortable about who you are beyond that. So I’d like you to think about that when you get dressed for school. Can you put the clothes you like and that are within the dress code on one side of your closet and the ones that are not on the other side? 

If administrators at your school are shaming girls, you need to speak out against it. Schools can have standards. They can even have standards that you disagree with but need to learn to live with. What you should not tolerate are adults who are responsible for the safety and education of your children to think enforcing the dress code gives them the right to shame and disrespect children.

How do you feel about dress codes at school? Post a comment and tell me below.

Rosalind Wiseman is the author of the new best seller Masterminds and Wingmen as well as Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads. For more info, go to rosalindwiseman.com. Read more of Rosalind’s parenting advice, here

Do you have a parenting question? Email askrosalind@familycircle.com.

 

 


Diet Tell-All: “It’s a Way to Honor Your Body While Slimming Down”

Written on September 9, 2014 at 8:20 am , by

 

By Karmen Lizzul, Family Circle creative director 

I was really excited to try Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live diet, as I had thought of doing it a couple of years ago when I first heard about it. Back then, I was moving and things got really hectic and I totally forgot about it.

The plan has so many of my favorite foods. I love vegetables and fruit and, as suggested, ate as much as I wanted during mealtimes. (Dr. Furhman recommends fasting between meals.) The six-week plan does not include meats or dairy. A salad and four fresh fruits are suggested daily. I loved eating all the fruit I wanted, but I did miss some stuff, like olive oil. I love my olive oil. And I am a creature of habit, so I missed my go-to dishes like poached eggs with whole wheat toast and grilled chicken. I did create a flexible new staple dish where switching up the vegetables let me change the flavor: a stir-fry with light coconut milk, Thai green curry and tofu. I would have it with a salad, and organic fruit for dessert. For a treat, I would bake an apple and sprinkle cinnamon on it.

It was hard at times, I won’t lie. One particularly tough day I was at the shore with friends and everyone was getting ice cream. I admit it: I caved. Dr. Fuhrman would not have been proud. But I still lost weight. I think that’s why this is a way to live more than a diet. It’s not as if I want to go back to eating processed foods, saturated fats and antibiotic-soaked meats. I like knowing that everything going into my body is clean. And even if I detour once in a while, it’s not as damaging as the way I ate before.

If you’re looking for a lifestyle change and a way to eat clean and healthy food, I highly recommend this diet. But I wouldn’t call it a diet. It’s really a new way to look at food and honor your body so it can take you on a long and happy journey.

 

 

Have you ever tried the Eat to Live diet? Post a comment and tell us about it.

Click here to read our feature “Losing It!“ from the October issue or here to see more blog posts from staffers on the diets they tried.


You Make It, We Post It!

Written on September 8, 2014 at 4:29 pm , by

This week’s featured chef is Instagram user @paxregina who made our classic meat lasagna!

Want to be featured here as next week’s chef?

Here’s how: Make a Family Circle recipe, take a photo and share it on Instagram by tagging @FamilyCircleMag and #FCMADEIT.

 

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How I Jump-Started My Fitness Routine

Written on September 5, 2014 at 4:50 pm , by

 By Syden Abrenica

When it comes to exercising, I’m not diligent when going it alone. It’s easy to simply skip a workout, especially after a long day at the office. After a few months of sporadic exercise and no results, I decided to make a big change and join a boot camp.

Enter Parsippany Adventure Boot Camp, located in New Jersey.

Two trainers head the four-week programs: Jessica Federici, a NESTA Personal Fitness Trainer and Mad Dog Spin Instructor and Tracy Seland, an HKC Kettleball Instructor and NESTA Personal Fitness Trainer.

The programs are based on circuit training, so every daily workout is different. Circuit training focuses on building your strength and muscular endurance, so think bursts of heart-pumping cardio, squat jumps, burpees and more. Each session runs 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the exercises.

Not only is your body reaping the benefits of daily workouts, the trainers are also in constant communication with you (along with your fellow campers). They share healthy recipes, provide tips on working out at home, and try to inspire and motivate you to become a healthy version of yourself.  There’s no intimidation here–both Jessica and Tracy foster an encouraging and supportive environment.

After two monthlong programs, I’ve lost inches all around. But my biggest success is in how I now view exercising and dieting. I’ve stopped overthinking and simply plan out my weeks.

 

To learn more about the Adventure Boot Camp, visit their website and Facebook page.  To find a certified Adventure Boot Camp near you, visit BootCampFinder.com.

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Modern Life: Young Ethiopian Orphan Steals the Heart of an American Family

Written on September 4, 2014 at 12:58 pm , by

A trip to Ethiopia was a life changer for Allie Haley and Tim Hill. While volunteering at an orphanage, they met, fell in love with and eventually adopted a 3-year-old boy named Bini. The couple brought their son back to America 10 months later and grew the family with daughter Bronwyn—all of which made Hamish, their Labrador retriever, very happy. They gave us a peek inside the world of the Haley-Hill clan, or as their friends like to call them, “the Hillaleys.”

Three Words for Family

Bronwyn says loving, Bini says grateful, Tim says crazy. I’d go with all three of those.

Haley and Hill Parenting

We’re pretty relaxed and very silly. Tim and I are both deeply sarcastic people, and we spend a lot of time joking with the kids. We also spend a lot of time together.

Redefining Luck

As Bini says, adoption is happy and sad. You’re happy you found a family, but you’re sad you lost the first one. I think that sums it up perfectly. People are always telling Bini how lucky he is, and it makes me want to scream. It’s not lucky to have your parents die or to be abandoned, to be left at an orphanage and live there for months or years, to be taken halfway across the world by people you don’t know, who probably don’t look like you, to a place that is completely different from your home. There’s nothing lucky about it. Something has to go pretty terribly wrong for a child to have to be adopted, and to tell kids they’re lucky is an insult to them and their history. Tim and I feel that we are the fortunate ones, to have found this amazing child and to be allowed to be his parents. We are all happy to be able to be a family. That’s the lucky part.

Morning Perk

Both children come into our bed early in the morning. The dog jumps on the bed too, and it’s just all of us together for a brief moment. The kids are getting too big for this to happen much longer, so I’m enjoying it while I can.

Feeding Frenzy

Mealtime is cuckoo, crazy and loud; it’s sheer insanity. We eat together every night, and by the time dinner rolls around, everyone is either wired or tired. It’s a lot of the kids singing songs and telling stories and jumping around and drumming on the table with a little eating thrown in.

Gaining a Son

We have an unusual adoption story. We met Bini when we were volunteering at his orphanage in Ethiopia. I’ve known I wanted to adopt since I was 3 years old, and I thought it would be a good way to make sure we saw what happens at an orphanage (to be confident that it was a good idea). In order to get Tim to agree to volunteer there, I had to promise him I wouldn’t try to adopt any of the kids, which I did because adopting would have been foolhardy and idiotic since we were traveling around the world and didn’t even have a place to live when we came back to America. About two weeks in, Bini was brought to the orphanage by his grandmother. As you can imagine, it was totally devastating. He had just turned 3 and had been abandoned by the only family he had in the world. I tried to befriend him to cheer him up and fell in love with him pretty quickly. It took a couple of weeks to get Tim on board, but by the time we left Ethiopia two months later, we knew we would be coming back for Bini. Fortunately, Tim says it was the best promise I ever broke. We applied to the adoption agency on June 17 and arrived in Ethiopia on January 12. It was a surprisingly short time because we identified a specific child, and he was an older boy.

The Adjustment

We were very lucky in myriad ways, not least of which was his adjustment. We spent about a month with him in Ethiopia, which helped, and we spoke a little bit of Amharic, which also helped. When he got to America, he had trouble sleeping through the night for a while, and I had to stay with him for three weeks when he started preschool, but comparatively, he had a very smooth transition. Helping him then is the same as helping him now: We sit with him and try to calmly soothe him.

Challenges

We have a difficult time educating other people about trauma and abandonment issues. If you don’t have a child with a history of trauma or loss, it can be difficult to understand their reactions. Most children who have been adopted have a trauma history, even if it’s “just” the trauma of being separated from their birth mothers. Trauma and abandonment issues manifest themselves in countless different ways, and we are still learning about them as we try to educate the other people in Bini’s life.

Peas in a Pod

Bronwyn was born almost 18 months after we adopted Bini, and 17 months to the day after we brought him home. He was thrilled to have a sister. While she was in utero, she would kick when he talked, but she would only do it for him. He called her his baby for years. He helped feed her, and he played with her, and he took very good care of her. To this day, they are best friends. She idolizes him and he teaches and protects her. We were very, very lucky. We always knew he would be a great big brother, but we had no idea they would have such a beautiful friendship.

Happy Campers

A few years ago, we went camping with friends in Botswana. We all became hooked immediately (because who isn’t going to love camping in Botswana?) and started camping around here. It’s not nearly as glamorous, but we all get away from the iPad and the TV and spend some time together. And we’re actually becoming better at cooking things other than s’mores, which is exciting.

Trick or Treat

The kids don’t know what they want to be for sure. They have done combined costumes for the last few years (Crocodile Dundee and his croc, Michael Jackson and a zombie, and a Ghostbuster and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man). This year, they are still debating: It’s between Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia or Wonder Woman and Superman. Star Wars is winning!

Allie’s Cause: Lola Children’s Fund

I’m the director of Lola Children’s Fund, a nonprofit organization that funds an orphanage and community programs for HIV-affected kids and families in Mekelle, Ethiopia. I started it five years ago, when we went to Ethiopia to adopt Bini. Abebe Fantahun, a friend of ours, asked if I would help him start an orphanage in northern Ethiopia because HIV-positive kids were literally dying in the streets. I said yes, and now we have three different programs: Lola Children’s Home, the day care and the community outreach program. Abebe is a gifted social worker who was orphaned himself as a young child, so he really understands children, and the kids and their families are amazing. It’s been a real privilege to be able to work with them.

 

 

 

 

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Moms Aren’t the Only Ones Trying to Juggle It All

Written on September 4, 2014 at 11:10 am , by

This August, software mogul Max Schireson announced that he was stepping down as CEO of a billion-dollar company. It was scandalous—but not for the reasons you might think. News that the hardworking former child prodigy was leaving his high-ranking position was met with shock and awe because he was leaning back, if you will, to spend more time with his family. Schireson will still work at his company, but in a lesser role.

Some critics responded with venom, stating that other men would love to do the same but would be left with financial woes. However, most of the response was supportive and highlighted the increasing number of men who choose to be homemakers.

The number of dads in the U.S. who don’t work outside the home hit 2 million in 2012, and there’s a myriad of reasons why these fathers remain in-house. When explaining his decision, Schireson used the B-word: balance. He felt like his life was out of balance and wanted to realign it in favor of his family. Of note is the fact that his wife is a well-respected clinician and professor of medicine at Stanford University who has managed the seesaw of motherhood and a demanding career in academia.

So what gives? Should it be newsworthy when a high-powered male makes an apparent sacrifice to spend time with his children when women do it all the time?

Well, yeah…

Our kids and families need to have fathers who are on active duty throughout their lives. The way that men play with their children can teach them independence and fearlessness. When fathers ask about school and attend parent-teacher conferences, our children do better in school. It takes both parents to help teens navigate their adolescent years. Discussing paternal attitudes and experiences with difficult topics like sex and drug usage has been shown to delay inappropriate activity.

When fathers like Max Schireson make a conscious decision to be more involved in the day-to-day activities of the their children’s lives and support their partners, they are not stepping down but stepping up. I applaud his decision and hope it inspires other fathers to do the same.

What do you think of Max Schireson’s decision? Post a comment and tell me.

 

Janet Taylor, MD, MPH, a mother of four, is a psychiatrist in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @drjanet. Read more of her posts here.

Got a question for Dr. Janet? Email her at askdrjanet@familycircle.com.


Diet Tell-All: “I Lost 9 Pounds and Was Never Hungry”

Written on September 4, 2014 at 10:30 am , by

By Jill Feigelman, Family Circle assistant web editor

There’s nothing I love more in the summer than going to the beach and relaxing when I get home. But two Sundays last July were different. I had a new agenda: preparing my breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next day. Why? Because I was starting the Hungry Girl diet.

As a first-time dieter, I took to the Hungry Girl approach because it was about portion control and eating real food.

While I prepped the lunch—plus my separate snacks of kale chips, broccoli and nuts, and tilapia for dinner—one thing struck me. Some of the portions seemed so small! Was I going to be starving? How is 4 ounces of turkey—just one slice—going to sustain me?

I also wondered how long I would be able to keep this up. I went to bed that night thinking about all the food I’d had at the beach that day and how I wouldn’t be able to do that come tomorrow. 

Fast-forward to the end of my two-week trial: I am 9 pounds slimmer and not afraid of what a portion size is or should be. The first week, I was actually stuffed during the day. Sometimes I really had to force myself to eat the three snacks and meals. But you have to eat them all. 

Although I’m a pretty fit person, I’d started to slack off about a month or two ago. I wanted to do this diet to get back to eating healthy. And while the diet was easy, I have to say that if you’re a busy person it does involve a lot of planning and shopping. I love to cook, but the recipes in this book sometimes were a bit too easy and simple in flavor for me, so I added a bit more spice than what the recipes called for.

 Fettuccine Hungry Girlfredo

Even though I’m off the diet, I continue to Hungry-fy some meals. I love the Crunchy Beef Tacos (top photo), Girlfredo Broccoli Slaw Bowl (above), Tropical Yogurt and Carrot Fries. Still, it’s nice not to have to worry about being so strict when I dine out now. I also think this diet would make me feel even better if I were exercising too.

Some of the biggest surprises: 24 pistachios is a serving size, and drinking hot lemon water in the morning really does curb your hunger. It’s not a myth. A myth is that you have to be hungry when dieting—which is absolutely not true where Hungry Girl is concerned. 

 

Have you ever tried the Hungry Girl diet? Post a comment and tell us about it.

Click here to read our feature “Losing It!“ from the October issue or here to see more blog posts from staffers on the diets they tried.

 


Diet Tell-All: “I Dined Like Wilma Flintstone to Lose Weight”

Written on September 2, 2014 at 8:30 am , by

By Lisa Kelsey, Family Circle art director

Let me start by saying I’m from an Italian family. In other words, pasta and bread were like a religion when I was growing up. Since my folks were from the north, in addition to olive oil, butter was used liberally and, of course, cheese was on most things we ate. My mother, from Florence, used to say people from her fair city were called “mangia-fagioli”—bean eaters, so those were on the menu a lot. And don’t even get me started on the vino!

To go on the Paleo Diet I would have to give up all that—grains, dairy, beans, alcohol—in addition to sugar and anything processed or pickled, like salami and peperoncini! You might say trying the Paleo Diet would be a form of foodie suicide. Me being on this diet would be pretty much like dropping a giraffe in the middle of the Antarctic to see how it fares.

So why did I choose it? I wanted to see if I really would feel different if I eliminated dairy and wheat from my diet. I wanted to lose a little weight, have more energy and try to lessen some stomach problems I’d being having on and off. Plus I just love a foodie challenge.

The first week, as prescribed by the book, was all about getting into the right mindset for the big change. I almost skipped this part, but since it was going to be so daunting I thought I’d better take the opportunity to psych myself up. As suggested, I started a Pinterest board and filled it with images that represented what I wanted in my life; photos of activities I look forward to, such as hiking and open-water swimming; and favorite inspirational quotes, like this one from Marcus Aurelius: “When you arise in the morning think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” I wanted to get a good night’s sleep and wake up in the morning refreshed.

The cover of Paleo for Beginners promises “117 Paleo foods you can eat.” Since I can probably name that many cheeses I like to eat, I knew I would feel limited and was going to want to eat as many of those foods as possible. In addition to more than the usual amount of seasonal (and organic) vegetables, my shopping list included some things I wasn’t used to, like quinoa, coconut oil, plantains and almond milk.

With no sugar allowed, I wanted to make sure I could satisfy my sweet tooth, so I stocked up on fruit. I went for snackable fruit, like cherries and berries. Knowing that I would be eating more meat on this diet, I was excited to try some of the game that’s mentioned in the book, including ostrich and alligator. Although a local grocery listed these items on their website, when I got to the store I found you had to special order them, so instead I went for grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, bison and lamb. Those meats were more expensive, but my grocery bill wasn’t higher than usual since I skipped all the chips, drinks and other packaged foods I would normally buy.

Taking a lead from the recipes in the book, I came up with my own versions. My first breakfast was something I’d never made before: plantains fried in coconut oil sprinkled with flaky sea salt. I had fun experimenting with almond milk, which I put in my coffee along with honey. I was slightly put off by the curdled look, but it tasted fine. I made a side dish of sautéed kale with walnuts and red onion, and had my husband grill marinated lamb. I made a cold salad of quinoa with toasted almonds and dried cranberries. I was so proud of myself that I started sharing my #paleo experiments on Instagram and Facebook, and it wasn’t long before friends were asking me if I was painting bison on the walls of my basement (inspired by Paleo’s other name, the Caveman Diet) or posting “What’s for dinner tonight, Wilma Flintstone?” on my Facebook wall.

As long as I planned ahead, I didn’t have that much trouble sticking to the diet. The challenge was being out and about, like when my daughter wanted to go to Five Guys Burgers and Fries and I had to eat my burger with no bun. No bun = no fun.

Afterward we stopped at Starbucks. I had a black iced coffee while my daughter slurped up her whipped-cream-topped cookie-infused Frappuccino. Also not fun. After working late one night, I was running through Grand Central and trying to grab dinner for the train. The only Paleo-friendly thing I could find was shrimp cocktail.

All in all, though, it went pretty well. I didn’t feel hungry all the time, my energy was up and I was starting to lose a little weight. Also—no stomach problems. Could I stick with this diet forever? No way. But I will incorporate elements of Paleo into my regular diet. And as much as I love ‘em, I’ll definitely cut down on the pasta and bread.

 

Have you ever tried the Paleo Diet? Post a comment and tell us about it.

Click here to read our feature “Losing It!“ from the October issue or here to see more blog posts from staffers on the diets they tried.


Talking to Your Kids About Michael Brown

Written on August 28, 2014 at 5:20 pm , by

As it is for many moms, early mornings are my favorite time of day. It’s peaceful, and the only time I can think quietly without interruption. A few days ago, as the sun rose, I sat with a cup of tea and couldn’t stop thinking about Michael Brown’s mother. She would bury her son on this day. The same day I was getting my boys ready for their first day of school. As I stared at my tea all I could think of was how to talk to my boys about the funeral, how another unarmed young man of color was killed by a police officer, and about the photos of heavily armed police pointing automatic weapons at and using tear gas on protesters, and how a member of that police department boasted at a public speech about killing minorities.

As a white mother with teen sons, living in Boulder, Colorado, I am far away from Ferguson, Missouri, in many ways. Boulder is a lovely place to live. As in many towns like it, people here pride themselves on being “progressive” and would never see themselves as supporting racial discrimination. But there are very few people of color living in Boulder. Yet they are here and, not surprisingly, my children have reported the often ignorant, and sometimes malicious, racist comments their white classmates make about African Americans and Mexicans.

Last year one of my sons told me that there was a group of wealthy white boys at his school taunting Hispanic students, calling them “beaners.” I told him I wanted him to say something to those white kids. He didn’t want to. The next time it happened, I talked to him about the relative privilege he has at that school because he is an athlete. I also wanted him to realize, if it was hard for him to speak up, how much more difficult it may be for someone with less social power. My son is starting eighth grade. I have no doubt there will be many opportunities for him to practice speaking out, and I hope one day he does.

Teaching your children to speak out against bigotry is an ongoing process. We can’t just tell them from time to time, “Racism is wrong.” Or, “All people are equal regardless of the color of their skin.” It is about knowing that no community is immune from racism and bigotry—including mine and yours. It is knowing that it’s common that “nice” kids make racist jokes and comments. It is knowing that your own children can make hurtful comments about other people or stay silent when someone else does. We have a responsibility to teach our children to effectively and unflinchingly realize that they have an obligation to make the world a more just place for all, and then give them the skills to make it happen.

Boulder isn’t unique. My consistent experience working throughout the country is that self-identified progressive communities believe they are above the racism they see, read and hear about in the media. The vast majority of parents within these communities can’t imagine their children degrading their peers because of the color of their skin. They can’t imagine their child making a racist or sexist  joke. They’ve told their children that racism is wrong, so there’s nothing more to say.

But there’s a lot more to say. Many white parents I’ve talked to don’t want to bring up something so unpleasant and ugly with their kids. Here’s the deal: It is ugly. It is unjust. But race privilege means you have the choice to avoid it. African American, Hispanic and other minority parents don’t have that choice. It’s our responsibility to take care of one another. And that means taking the blinders off.

Being a parent means educating your children and having hard conversations with them about how messed up the world is. It’s about allowing them to get upset about it, angry about it and then challenging them to make it better. It’s about reading and watching with your child the reports coming out of Ferguson, going back to the reports about Trayvon Martin, printing out and reading what people are saying about these issues (Ta-Nehisi Coates has been my go-to writer this year).

We need our children to understand that the democracy they study in school is messy. It has an ugly history of how it has treated many minorities in this country and that legacy profoundly affects all of us to this day. If we don’t educate our kids, we sentence them to ignorance and not developing the skills and courage to stand by their peers for the collective and individual dignity of all. So sit down and watch Michael’s funeral service with your teens. Ask your child what it feels like to bear witness to this community’s anger and grief. Just be still for a moment and then vow to do something to make it better.


Diet Tell-All: “Eat-More-Weigh-Less Actually Works!”

Written on August 27, 2014 at 1:06 pm , by

By Danielle Hester, Family Circle web editor 

I love diets. In fact, dieting is one of my many hobbies—something I proudly have in common with Mindy Kaling. From Dr. Ian’s 4 Day Diet to the Whole30 program to juice cleanses, I’m not one to stick to a set routine.

So when I volunteered to test out a weight-loss book for an upcoming story and the health director gave me a list to choose from, it wasn’t surprising that I’d already tried four of the eight options. At random, I chose Lisa Lillien’s The Hungry Girl Diet. The title was appealing and the tagline even more so: “Big Portions. Big Results. Drop 10 Pounds in 4 Weeks.” Count me in!

For the first week, I was kind of a diet snob. I didn’t jump on the Hungry Girl bandwagon right away. I didn’t particularly care for her substitution options. Liquid egg whites? No, thanks! And there were a lot of behaviors required that I already exhibited, like drinking lemon water every morning and substituting Greek yogurt for sour cream. Aside from giving in to my dinosaur-sized sweet tooth, which requires I have at least one sugary treat a day, my eating habits are consistently healthy. I told everyone the recipes weren’t challenging enough, that my food intake was very similar and I wouldn’t lose much weight.

But Lillien slowly started to win me over. I found two recipes that I really enjoyed: the Mega Fruit ‘n Yogurt Bowl and the Crunchy Beef Tacos. (I substituted ground turkey for beef.) Many of the suggested snacks were store-bought, grab-and-go options. And the portion sizes were filling, so much so that I struggled to consume the required 1,200 to 1,300 calories per day. I was beginning to think maybe there really was something to this eat-more-weigh-less concept.

By the end of the challenge, I started to appreciate the Hungry Girl diet from a different perspective: Just because it wasn’t the right diet for me (I lost only 3 pounds), doesn’t mean it isn’t a great program to follow. My coworker lost 9 pounds on Hungry Girl.

Overall, I think this diet is best for people who want to change their eating habits and make better choices when it comes to food selection and portion control. I also think it’s best for people looking to lose a significant amount of weight. For someone like me, who has a consistent and balanced diet of fruits, veggies, protein and healthy fats, the Hungry Girl diet didn’t take me out of my comfort zone, like, maybe, the 10-Day Detox diet would have.

Hungry Girl also requires a lot of food preparation. It was hard for me to balance long days in the city with long nights in the kitchen preparing six meals to take with me in the morning. I think stay-at-home spouses or someone who works from home would love this diet.

The major plus: I was able to step away from my indulgences, cleanse my body and even lose a few inches off my waistline! Now on to my next diet. Any suggestions?

 

Have you ever tried the Hungry Girl diet? Post a comment and tell us about it.

Click here to read our feature “Losing It!“ from the October issue or here to see more blog posts from staffers on the diets they tried.