Family Circle

Diet Tell-All: “I Lost 7 Pounds and Never Counted Calories”

Written on August 20, 2014 at 11:30 am , by

By Tina Anderson, Family Circle photo director 

I’ve always been told that one shouldn’t go on a diet because inevitably one goes off a diet. Instead you should make healthy overall lifestyle changes. I’m generally a healthy person: I cook at home and exercise regularly. But recently I was completely off the rails, which happens to a lot of people around the holidays. I was eating and drinking (for no apparent reason) like I was a college kid with a metabolism to match. So when I heard our health director was looking for volunteers to be diet guinea pigs, I said, “Yes, please. Where do I sign up?”

I followed the Super Shred diet, which is intended to be a temporary solution (four weeks max) for someone looking to drop weight quickly for an event like a class reunion or a wedding. Or life. This diet road test was the perfect excuse for me to put the brakes on my crazy consumption. I followed the diet’s directions exactly and lost 4 pounds by the end of the first week and 3 pounds the next. Not bad, huh? Hold on. It took a ton of planning. I had to go grocery shopping three times in the first four days because I hadn’t purchased enough snackable food to get me through the week! (The plan consists of mini meals and snacks that you eat at specifically timed intervals throughout the day.) And trust me. You don’t want to eat the same snack six times in a row. Yawn.

Speaking of snacks, Dr. Smith provides you with a list of nearly two hundred 100- and 150-calorie options ranging from hard-boiled eggs to nuts to frozen grapes. Too boring? Don’t worry! There are also suggestions like ½ cup canned crabmeat or 2 ounces cooked mussels. Because those are snacks that you would totally carry around in your purse, right?!

Dr. Smith does take care of your calorie counting for you, so you can choose what you like from his list and keep it moving. Just don’t bother trying to go out to eat. This diet doesn’t accommodate for that. I personally got really tired of his repeated meal suggestions of smoothies, protein shakes and soups, not to mention his detailed daily beverage list of unlimited plain water, 1 cup of lemonade, 1 cup of unsweetened iced tea, 1 cup juice and 1 (12-ounce) can diet soda. I also didn’t understand why it’s okay to have lemonade but not sweetened iced tea. I’m pretty sure that lemonade has sugar in it, otherwise it would be called lemon water. And diet soda? Don’t get me started.

In spite of my various issues with this diet, it forced me to rethink what I hadn’t been thinking about. At all. I was in a rut of mindless eating, and by participating in this diet, I was forced to hit pause. I think that any diet plan could have done that for me. I just needed someone else to tell me how to do it.

 

Have you ever tried the Super Shred diet? Post a comment and let us know.

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.

 

Have You Had “the Talk” with Your Mom Yet?

Written on August 12, 2014 at 2:00 pm , by

By Barbara McCann

I ran into an old friend, Joyce, at a college reunion a few years ago and she looked so worn out. She shared that her mother-in-law, an active, vibrant 85-year-old, had come for a visit, fallen and was briefly hospitalized. Her return to Joyce’s home started a cascade of exhausting events that Joyce and her husband, Jim, were absolutely not prepared to handle. With their own demanding jobs and active family life, they were at their wits’ end, largely because they lacked the knowledge to navigate the health care system.

Unfortunately, as an in-home health care expert and chief industry officer for Interim HealthCare, I hear stories like Joyce’s every single day. People tend to avoid these tough “life conversations” and not get details about their loved one’s health care plans. But if families talk now, they will be far better prepared to care for an elderly family member when required. Here are four tips for being financially and emotionally ready at the precise moment you may be at your most stressed and vulnerable.

• Ask specific questions about all insurance policies: Where are they stored? What contact information would you need for them?
• Research now what’s covered by insurance—and, more importantly, what’s not. Someone who has been hospitalized, for example, will need physical and emotional attention 24/7 when they get home.
• Plan (and even save) for extra help at home, around-the-clock if necessary. Ask specific questions about when and how long nurses and aides paid for by insurance will actually be there. Think about how you’ll handle unattended time, including nighttime hours, when family caregiver rest is essential.
• Anticipate a loss of muscle strength after hospitalization. Activities of daily living (getting in and out of bed, toileting, getting dressed and fixing meals) may require significant help.

For my friend Joyce, the conversation with her mother-in-law never happened. Life was busy and Mary was healthy—until that fall. After three days in the hospital, Joyce’s mother-in-law returned to the couple’s home with bruises, a sprained wrist and significantly reduced muscle strength. Joyce and Jim thought Medicare would cover everything, but it didn’t. Mary needed help all night long, and Medicare only covers an aide a few days each week and doesn’t provide for nighttime assistance. Jim would help Mary to the bathroom but it was uncomfortable, so Joyce was needed too. All three were up nearly all night.

Jim spent hours collecting information from insurance companies and private agencies about in-home care. But when we bumped into each other at the reunion, I was able to talk to Joyce about options available through Interim. In less than six months, Mary returned to independent living with regular care through us.

Even if Interim isn’t your first choice, know that studies show 82% of senior citizens want to age in their own home and 8 out of 10 patients have improved clinical outcomes with in-home care. It’s far more cost-effective to age in place as long as there are no around-the-clock medical needs.

Families need to discuss now exactly what they want and can afford before emergency strikes, blindsiding them with the emotional, financial and physical toll of caregiving when they are least equipped to handle it and make sound decisions. The trick to a successful caregiver experience is advance planning.

An in-home health care expert and industry source, Barbara McCann is chief industry officer for Interim HealthCare. A former chief clinical officer, she currently represents the company with national and local health policy and health care quality organizations to support the highest standards for quality care delivered in the home.

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Food for Thought

Written on August 12, 2014 at 1:00 pm , by

By Jennifer Ball-Tufford 

Last Halloween there was a food drive at the school where I work—boxes set up in the hallways, with cute kid-decorated signs imploring us all to SCARE HUNGER and donate nonperishables for a local agency. On any given workday, I found myself gazing into the bins more than once or twice. Why? Because I like food. It’s like porn to me. I wish I was lying. So when I walked by, naturally I peeked in at the packages.

Dang. Talk about some swanky grocery shoppers at our school. Think “fancy” stuff, as in, organic this and that, and other very appealing deviations from the standard boxes of mac and cheese and spaghetti. There was rice pasta, gluten-free crackers, olive tapenade, artichoke hearts packed in seasoned oil and quinoa. I peered at the contents of those bins like Sylvester ogled Tweety Bird.

Strolling by one day, checking out the bins, I came upon one of the women who helped organize the drive and called out, “Wow! Look at all this awesomeness!” or something similarly enlightening. She beamed at me and said, “I know! The parents at this school are amazing.” As she was speaking, another woman happened by. She smiled at us, like people who see each other several times a day in passing do, and then said this:

“Too bad they won’t know what to do with most of it.”

It was one of those moments in life when your ears hear something but your brain can’t quite process it. I was fairly certain I’d just heard her say what I thought I’d heard her say…but it didn’t really sink in. It floated there, like a film of rainbow-hued oil over a puddle in the street. I spoke up while she was still within earshot, asking, “What do you mean?” I needed an answer, to verify what she’d said and make sure I hadn’t misunderstood. The woman stopped walking and turned toward me, one hand holding a couple of manila folders, the other resting lightly on her hip. She was still smiling. “Those people won’t know what most of that stuff is. I mean, really. Quinoa?”

Yep. I’d heard correctly. Those people.

At that moment, it had been eight months since the last time I got groceries at our local food pantry. Eight months since the long-overdue child support from my ex-husband kicked in. Even though it wasn’t much, it made the difference between being able to buy enough food for the five of us and having to supplement from a food pantry. For that, I’m grateful.

Those people.

I can still vividly recall my first time visiting the food pantry. I’d driven by many, many times, trying to work up the courage to pull into the parking lot. I’d whisper to myself, “Dammit. I can’t,” and keep driving, home to the barren refrigerator and the Old Mother Hubbard cupboards. Until desperation overshadowed my pride.

Those people.

Once you get past the hardest part, which is walking through the door, being at the food pantry isn’t so bad. I mean, it’s not something that would inspire one to burst into song and run around high-fiving people, but as far as life experiences go, it’s not terrible. Sure, there’s the heat on your cheeks as you fill out the paperwork, giving these strangers your life history. Telling them how you got into this pickle. This predicament. Explaining what you do for money, how much you get and what you spend it on. But you get used to having hot cheeks. You become accustomed to averting your gaze so as not to make too much eye contact. You eventually become, dare I say, comfortable.

Those people.

I quickly learned that food pantries are a lot like T.J. Maxx—hit or miss. Some days the shelves are full, and with really good things. Annie’s Macaroni and Cheese. Organic marinara sauce. Fresh vegetables. Whole chickens in the freezer. Brie from Trader Joe’s that’s only two days past the expiration date. Other days, you have to scramble to even get near the required weight of food in your cart. (Yeah, you get a certain number of pounds of food, depending on the size of your family.) Dented cans of creamed corn. Spoiled produce that even the most resourceful broke chef couldn’t salvage. Individual sleeves of saltine crackers. But beggars can’t be choosers, right?

Those people.

All in all, I visited the food pantry a total of five times over the course of 11 months, confiding in only one friend about it. When I told my kids, I expected them to laugh or get angry or be embarrassed. They didn’t do any of those things. Instead, they helped me put the groceries away, and did so quietly, not saying much other than the occasional “Yum!” or “Gross!” I can recall, on command, almost all the meals I made with food pantry goodies. Oven-roasted chicken with quartered rosemary potatoes. Turkey chili. French toast. More mac and cheese than I care to admit. One of my favorites was an organic risotto, flavored with mushrooms and olive oil.

Those people.

I wanted to walk up to that woman in the hallway and smack the folders out of her hand. I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her as I got up in her face and yelled at her, “You clueless, pretentious b***h! You don’t know a thing about how it feels to walk into one of ‘those’ places and be one of ‘those’ people. You’ve never had to swallow your pride and admit that you need a hand. You’ve never looked at your kids and had to hide your tears because you had no idea how you were going to feed them. You know what? Those people will be grateful to see this food. They’ll be saying silent prayers of thanks as they box that stuff up and bring it home and make it for their families. And they will never, ever forget how it felt to feel so appreciative for something as simple as food.” I wanted to say that, but I didn’t. Instead, all I could muster was:

“I like quinoa.”

To which she replied, “Well, yes, of course. You’re not one of those people.”

If only she knew.

 

Jennifer Ball-Tufford blogs about divorce, single motherhood and life as a fortysomething at happyhausfrau.blogspot.com. She loves her kids, Louis CK and binge-watching TV on Netflix.

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Waiting for Abby

Written on August 11, 2014 at 4:19 pm , by

By Gwen Moran

On the floor of my home office, Chloe, a 90-pound Labrador retriever, is lying on my foot, snoring. For most of the morning, she’s been staring accusingly at me and sighing loudly. I have a choice: move and wake her—and risk her resuming that reproachful look—or endure the growing pins-and-needles sensation. Then I think about her sad eyes. Pins and needles it is. Nearby, I also hear our two cats, Whiskers and Ranger, meowing, in searching mode, carefully scanning every corner of the house for her.

This warm September morning, my menagerie’s favorite human—a fair- skinned, blue-eyed 11-year- old girl named Abby— grabbed her backpack and kissed each of them goodbye. They don’t know she climbed aboard a big yellow bus heading for her first day of middle school; they only know that their playmate and companion is gone. And they’re not alone in wandering around, feeling a little lost. I can’t help but miss her too, wondering how her day’s going.

I finally wiggle my foot free from under our slumbering dog and walk softly to the kitchen. I see Whiskers knocking around a cloth mouse—the one Abby usually throws to him. With no one to toss it back, he gives up and walks away. It’s less fun to play alone. Ranger’s lying on the laundry room floor, curled up on one of Abby’s old T-shirts. The house itself feels emptier without our singing, soccer- playing tween to keep us all entertained. During summer’s lazy days, Abby has more time to dote on her furry companions. When she skips rope on the patio, Chloe lies in the grass nearby while the indoor- only cats stare from the patio door. When we head to the park, our pup’s tail and tongue dance happily as she follows her girl’s every move. When Abby returns indoors to read a book or watch television, the cats curl up on her lap with the dog lounging at her feet, forming a content “pack.”

The pets always miss her presence the most. Abby has raised each of them since they were babies, so it’s not surprising they love her best. The kittens, abandoned in our yard at barely one month old by their sick feral mother, spent weeks in Abby’s bathroom, where she dutifully fed them from a plastic syringe every four hours around the clock. The day we visited the farm where Chloe was born, the eight-week-old pup ran to my daughter and chewed on her long hair, practically claiming her.

Now Chloe’s awake from her nap and her head snaps to the door at every passing noise that might signal Abby’s return. I wish there were a way to tell her she’ll burst through the door— precisely at 3:09—sharing tales of her first day before they all settle down in the dining room while she does her homework. Soon enough the four of us will adjust to our new daytime routine. But for now, we’ll be waiting until she returns home so we can have her all to ourselves again.

 

Gwen Moran is an award-winning writer and creator of Biziversity.com.

Win a Pair of Asics Sneakers for Your Family

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

Have your sneakers been looking a little worn lately? Enter to win a new pair of Asics sneakers for your family by commenting below with your favorite type of exercise! For official rules, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, sales of these colorful Asics running shoes (asicsamerican.com, $140) benefit Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a nonprofit that raises money for research.

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Win It! Back-to-School Pilot Pens + $300 Amex Gift Card

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

Pilot Pen wants to help you stock up for school. Enter for a chance to win a journal, a year’s supply of Pilot Pens and a $300 American Express gift card by commenting below with your must have school supplies. For official rules, click here.

 

WIN IT! $500 Gift Card From Target

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

Deck out your student’s homework zone with stylish supplies from Target. Enter the Family Circle + Target Homework Station Sweepstakes for a chance to win one $500 Target gift card by commenting below with what school supplies you would buy with the gift card? 

 

For official rules, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Putting Fit Fun Back in the Family Vacation

Written on July 23, 2014 at 5:17 pm , by

By Julie D. Andrews

Recently, on my first trip to the Hawaiian Islands, I was gob-smacked at the number of families there. Not just there, but there doing things together, active things, outdoor things of the adventurous ilk.

As soon as I checked into the Westin Maui, I began noticing a trickle of active families, which soon intensified and wove its way through my entire stay. There went a mom and her teen son, jogging in the cool, early morning along a coast-hugging path (not a trophy, blonde-bombshell mama, by the way). Trailing behind her boy, she beamed a prideful “I know, can you believe this young man is my son?!” look as I scooted past. There glided a father and teen daughter kayaking, ricocheting unscripted giggles and smiles, not an eye roll in sight. While outrigger canoeing with friends, I saw swarms of families snorkeling together. Even when I was mountain biking, siblings sloshed by me, tires whipping mud, racing to trail’s end.

This struck me—particularly because, one month before, while biking in Acadia Park, I had not seen this. Retirees and couples biking, yes, but families, no. What I saw instead shocked me: throngs of massively overweight families, slogging to restaurants more slowly than the elderly, ordering fried everything with fries on the side for dinner and bacon with whipped-cream pancake stacks for breakfast while I cringed nearby. “Huh?” I puzzled to my boyfriend. “We’re in Bar Harbor. Bike, kayak and rock-climbing-gear rentals dot every corner. What gives?”

I recalled a Carolinas family vacation years back with my parents, siblings and nephews that fell during marathon training. I had my running gear on, happily about to launch. “What are you doing?!” the group asked, astounded. “You are on vacation,” they said. I went anyway, even convincing my sis to join me for a power-walk-run the next day. Still, everyone around me viewed exercise as work, part of a regimen. But by that time in my life, all I saw it as was playtime.

I know we don’t want to hear this. It sounds like blame (far too harsh and unfair a word, so I prefer “awareness”), but a mound of evidence shows that parental decisions and behaviors significantly affect a child’s lifestyle choices.

It’s easy to blanket-blame fast food or video games for childhood obesity, but a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study found that while fast food contributes to unhealthy kids, the core culprit in childhood obesity is dietary habits children observe and learn at home.

Research suggests that the earlier kids learn healthy behavior, the better, according to the NIH, and experts recommend that most kids exercise at least 60 minutes daily. Plus, another study found that kids whose moms not only encourage them to exercise and eat well but model such behaviors are more likely to be active and healthy.

Sneak fitness into your family vacation this year. Offer suggestions, and let your teen decide. Some possibilities:

• Rent bicycles (have your teen map a route)
• Park the car, replenish water bottles and walk everywhere
• Try a beachfront yoga class
• Take morning or evening jogs/walks
• Rent canoes, rowboats, kayaks
• Take surfing or paddleboarding lessons
• Scuba dive
• Hike
• Play tennis or golf
• Pack a frisbee, paddle balls and swimsuits
• Splash. Sweat. Fall. Rekindle the playful spirit within you and, I promise, your teens will take note.

 

Julie D. Andrews is a writer living in New York City. Her new book, Real Is the New Natural, dismantles the negative, destructive messaging about body image and beauty bombarding us daily under the guise of health. Moms are calling it an excellent vehicle for propelling discussions about tough topics with their daughters.

 

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Powdered Alcohol: The New Kool-Aid of Teen Drinking?

Written on July 8, 2014 at 9:11 am , by

By Julie D. Andrews

We were visiting my brother, his wife and their kids in Georgia. It was our first time in Peachtree City, a picturesque suburban haven, where it’s hip (and safe) for teens to flit around on backwoods paths to ball fields and drive to local cupcake shops in decorated golf carts. The place seemed so first-kiss sweet and innocent.

Yet, I still can’t forget what happened there. Largely because it just wasn’t the sort of thing you imagined going down in such a pleasantville. As my sister-in-law filled us in on the neighborhood news, she told us of a local dad who found his 16-year-old son, early on a Sunday morning, coiled at the bottom of the family hot tub, limp and lifeless.

The honors student, who attended a nearby Baptist church and played junior-varsity soccer, had bought a package of Mojo Diamond Extreme Potpourri at a nearby convenience store, taken it home and smoked the OTC synthetic marijuana. In one puff of smoke, there vanished a just-beginning life, so bursting with opportunity and hope and yet-to-be-had tingly moments that the sheer thought of this boy’s final breath still sends a jolt through my spine.

Teens are impulsive. They’re experimental, feel invincible and can rapidly get in way over their heads. Over Memorial Day, soaking in a hot tub at my sister’s house in Maryland, I couldn’t help but think of this tragedy, and want to level with my A-student, every-sport-playing 12-year-old nephew about the dangers of youthful experimentation—dangers that exist for every teen, no matter their GPA or extracurriculars.

What’s the latest newfangled intoxicant? Powdered alcohol. On April 8, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau granted label approval for Palcohol packets, then, 13 days later, rescinded that approval. The government called the approval an error, but the manufacturer, Lipsmark, soon announced its plans to tweak and resubmit labels for final approval.

Powdered alcohol is discreet—therefore, ideal for covert underage drinking. As Senator Chuck Schumer, who called on the Food and Drug Administration to ban Palcohol, pointed out, it can be easily slipped into pockets and shoe soles, and brought into parks, concerts, you name it. It can be cavalierly sprinkled onto food, mixed with water or snorted—a particularly big cause for concern.

Snorted alcohol immediately alters the brain. While no research has yet been done, preventing us from knowing the full risks, we do know that snorted alcohol is absorbed—and can intoxicate—instantly and that doing so may significantly impair judgment and motor skills. Worse, predicts Joshua Lafazan, a member of the Syosset School Board and the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, powdered alcohol could “certainly lead to many more instances of alcohol poisoning for youth.”

It’s not your kids, it’s the age and the time and the hormones and the peer pressure. Call it what you must, but talk to them.

 

Julie D. Andrews is a writer living in New York City. Her new book, Real Is the New Natural, dismantles the negative, destructive messaging about body image and beauty bombarding us daily under the guise of health. 

 

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You Make It, We Post It!

Written on July 7, 2014 at 10:30 am , by

“Thank you #FamilyCircleMagazine for the recipe, and the cute idea of putting it in jars!” says Instagram user @ashmarie122 who snapped a shot of our Banana Pudding. The traditional southern treat is easy to prepare and personalize—she left out the bananas for an all-vanilla indulgence! Create an entire Low Country-inspired feast with these down-home recipes.

 

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.

Moms and Daughters Bond While Working Out with “Biggest Loser” Trainer Cara Castronuova

Written on July 2, 2014 at 2:16 pm , by

Learning about fitness and health is as easy as having fun—that’s what celebrity trainer Cara Castronuova has in store for her camp-goers.

Camp Kid Warrior in Patterson, New York, which is open to boys and girls ages 7-18, will focus on eating balanced meals, an assortment of exciting workouts (including Zumba, martial arts and kickboxing) and, most important, getting kids inspired by fitness.

With a staff of motivational athletic counselors, the camp is offered by Cara’s very own nonprofit organization, the Knockout Obesity Foundation, which gives children in need the chance to exercise and keep at it.

Traditional camp activities like arts and crafts, fishing and archery will also be offered.

Learn more about the program and the organization by visiting knockoutobesityfoundation.org.

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WIN IT! Family Circle Summer Shopping Spree Sweeps With RetailMeNot.com

Written on July 1, 2014 at 2:15 pm , by

Let digital coupon site RetailMeNot.com foot the bill for all your summer shopping needs by entering Family Circle’s gift card giveaway sweepstakes. There are four $500 visa gift cards up for grabs. Here’s your chance to WIN! See official rules, here.

 

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