Written on March 27, 2015 at 11:07 am , by Family Circle Momster blog
In this guest blog post, AMBER WILLIAMS, a 44-year-old mom of two teens, reveals how having a personal mission tied to a greater good helped her transform her body. Read on to find out how you can follow her amazing lead.
At the age of 35, I took my first steps on a weight loss journey with a lofty end point: lose 100 pounds. At my heaviest, in 2005, I weighed 278 pounds, leaving me with high blood pressure and a warning from my doctor that I was at risk for diabetes. Because I was so out of shape at the time, the only exercise I could tolerate was walking. So when I heard a Susan Komen 3-Day commercial on the radio, something inside me sparked. I knew I wanted to push myself to another level both for my physical health and to honor the four women in my family who had battled breast cancer.
Because I’d set a pretty big goal for myself, I started training a year before the actual walk. Let’s just say it was training for my training. That September, I got active, started walking around the block, going to the gym, anything to get moving. Then I began the 3-Day 24-week training schedule, in May 2006. I followed that program closely to prepare for my 3-Day at the beginning of November. The coaches helped me with my exercise routine and fundraising questions, and the training walks in the months leading up to the event made me confident I could pound the pavement for three days straight.
People ask me all the time how, as a working mother of two teens, I pulled off the training and fundraising for the 3-Day. It’s simple, really: I committed to something and I stuck with it. I’d get to the gym at 5:45 a.m., before my sleepy teens were up, and do about 30 minutes of cardio followed by weight-lifting. The more pounds I lost, the more energy I had, so I began to incorporate Spin classes for some cross-training. Afterward, I’d be home to wake up my kids and get them off to school. I learned that we make time for the things in life we truly enjoy, and working on myself and my goals at the gym was very important to me.
Getting ready for the 3-Day was a family affair; over the summer, my daughter would walk some early mornings or after dinner with me. My husband helped with my fundraising efforts, perfecting the letters and emails I would send out. It certainly helped make asking for money easier! I also felt a sense of community as I walked with friends after work and on weekends.
November 2006 was full of milestones. I completed my first 3-Day in Dallas and was 100 pounds lighter than the previous November. Before all this, I’d been a woman who became incredibly winded just walking down the block or up a flight of stairs. Once I crossed the finish line, I felt stronger than I ever had in my life. Through my tears and emotions, I knew the women I had loved and lost to breast cancer were smiling down upon me and were so proud too!
What else was I supposed to do other than set a new goal? In 2006 I told myself I would walk in the 3-Day for five years to maintain my health and my passion for the cause. In 2011, after I reached that milestone, my daughter Emilie, then 14, asked me to keep walking until she could join me when she turned 16. In 2013 we reached yet another milestone, and Emilie was able to participate with me for the first time. She had always been on the sidelines cheering me on, but having her walk by my side in this emotional and powerful event was incredible.
Does the training get in the way of family time? It never has, and now that Emilie is walking in the event, we train together! We share this passion, and I have never been so proud as when I watched her accomplish those 60 miles in just three days. As a team, we raise money that benefits so many women and men. Together we help to change the future of people like my mother, who is a 12-year breast cancer survivor, and my mother-in-law, aunt and grandmother, who all lost their battles with this horrible disease. We are determined to dedicate our time and effort to this event because it means so much to us.
My advice? If you’ve heard about or are interested in participating in the 3-Day, just sign up. Set your goal. Buy some shoes. Get walking! If I can do it, anyone can. And I will be doing it again. This November I’ll mark my ninth consecutive 3-Day, 60-mile journey in the Dallas/Fort Worth walk!
Thanks to events like this, Susan G. Komen has invested more than $2.5 billion in the fight against breast cancer to date. To sign up to walk this year—or for more information—visit The3Day.org.
Written on March 20, 2015 at 2:43 pm , by Lynya Floyd
Have you ever heard of “lighthouse parenting”? If not, it’s about to change your world. In his new book, Raising Kids to Thrive: Balancing Love with Expectations and Protection with Trust, Kenneth Ginsburg, MD, introduces the uninitiated to this surprising concept. The vision: Be a stable force on the shoreline that your kids can always look to (no matter what they’ve done this time). Make sure they don’t crash against any rocks, but allow them to ride the waves. (That’s for you, helicopter parents.) Master this technique and you’ll decrease anxiety, boost school performance and generally have a happier kid, says Ginsburg, a specialist in adolescent medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia whose new book was published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. In this Q&A, the author explains exactly how to be the lighthouse your kid needs.
Parenting books focus on every topic under the sun, but you homed in on two key actions: giving unconditional love and protecting your child. Why did you pick these?
Because they define the struggle of modern-day parenting. When we love our kids unconditionally, we give them the security to face the world. But how do you love your kids unconditionally when you also have to hold them to high expectations? Those two points seem in opposition. Second, kids have to fall down so they can learn how to get up. But you want to protect your kid. I wanted to put in one place the science, logic and strategies behind how to strike a balance for your child.
There’s a great part of your book where you list a series of things parents should stop saying to their kids, like “How did you do on your test?” Why is that not the right question to ask your kid?
When we praise the outcome or the result, people become very anxious about what they’ve done. When we notice the process and effort they put in, then they understand they’re in control. So instead ask, “What did you learn today?” Another example: Don’t say, “You’re so smart in math.” Then kids will be afraid to explore history and they’re going to be anxious about getting that B+. Instead say, “You worked really hard to study and complete all your math problems. That’s why you’re doing well.”
How about a parent getting frustrated and telling her kid, “Your grades are slipping. Sometimes I wonder if you even care.” What damage does that do?
When our kids don’t perform to our standards, we think they’re lazy. So often it’s the opposite. It’s that the kids care deeply and feel deeply. They worry about disappointing us. And as a result they choose to get off the playing field. It’s hard for a kid to say, “I care so much. I’m feeling insecure all the time.” Saying “I don’t care” or feigning indifference is easy. Allow yourself to step back and wonder if this kid is feeling too much pressure.
You have a section in the book where you offer a series of questions parents should ask themselves. There’s one I wanted you to talk about a little more: “Was love given to you unconditionally while growing up? How might that have affected you?”
If we felt that we had to perform for love instead of just being given it as kids, chances are we’re never going to feel good enough as adults. We’re always going to be anxious, trying to gain favor from other people. If you ask yourself that question and the answer is “I never knew how [my parents] felt about me” or “They seemed so angry when I didn’t _____,” there’s a good chance that as an adult you’re still paying for that emotionally. Rather than repeat that cycle, understand the importance of full unconditional love of your child. It doesn’t mean you approve of every behavior, but it means you’re not going anywhere. The kid can always rely on your presence, wisdom and affection.
You talked about the countless emails you’ve received with the subject line “Code Words Saved My Child’s Life.” What are code words, and why should parents use them?
We have to remember that our job is to protect our kids, but our bigger job is to raise kids to be healthy 35-, 40- and 50-year-olds. Let them go out into the world, but have a safety net so they can call you at any time and get out of any situation. Code words allow kids to call or text and put in a phrase the parent knows means “I’m in trouble; get me out of this,” like “I forgot to walk the dog.” And that triggers you to demand they come home or insist you pick them up or give them an excuse to leave.
Why did you put so much energy into weaving teen voices throughout the book—including your daughters’?
Kids are the experts in their own lives. But the truth is our own kids push our buttons. What this book allows you to do by including 500 kids from all over the country is to hear their voices in a way that doesn’t push your buttons. And you can imagine what your children might think based on what these kids say.
Would you try lighthouse parenting with your child? Post a comment below and tell us.
Kenneth Ginsburg, MD, is a specialist in adolescent medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He is also director of health services at Covenant House Pennsylvania. He is the author of numerous scientific papers and five books, including the award-winning best seller Building Resilience in Children and Teens. Most of all, he’s a dad.
Written on March 9, 2015 at 3:27 pm , by Lynya Floyd
With dedicated centers popping up nationwide and stacks of studies touting its health benefits, there’s no doubt: Meditation is the new yoga. So what’s holding some of us back from trying it? Despite the promise of everything from improved mood to an immune system boost, there are still many misconceptions about the practice of relaxing your mind. “I’m trying to demystify meditation for people who say, ‘That’s not for me’ or ‘I can’t do that,’” says Barb Schmidt, a mom of two and author of The Practice: Simple Tools for Managing Stress, Finding Inner Peace and Uncovering Happiness. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years and the more I explain it to people, the more they think: ‘Oh, I can do this! I can try this.’” If you’d like to be one of them, consider taking some time to get centered after reading the facts behind these three meditation fictions.
Myth #1: “I Don’t Have Time to Meditate.”
Got 60 seconds? You’ve got time to meditate. In fact, Schmidt recommends that beginners start with a small daily time commitment. “Spend one or two minutes before you get out of bed with your eyes closed just focusing on your breath,” says Schmidt. “You’re learning how to focus your attention on your breath even as it occasionally goes down a path of what’s for breakfast or what time you should pick up your daughter from school. You’re strengthening your resolve.”
Myth #2: “I’ll Probably Do It Wrong.”
Like trying a new recipe or helping your kid with the New Math, worrying we’ll do something incorrectly can stop us from doing it at all. But that definitely shouldn’t stop you from getting centered. Trust us: Just say om. “There is no right or wrong way to meditate. All of that is false,” says Schmidt. “It’s simply sitting with yourself. You’re connecting with yourself. Be with you, not trying to do anything or get anywhere.”
Myth #3: “I Have to Think About Nothing.”
While practice may eventually make perfect, right now you’re just training yourself to be in the present. Your mind will wander. That’s where mantras, like “I choose peace” or “This too shall pass,” can come in. “A word, phrase or passage can bring your attention back when your mind wanders,” explains Schmidt. “It’s the tool that brings you in the meditation back to the present moment.”
Have you given meditation a try? Post a comment and tell us why or why not below.
Barb Schmidt is an international speaker, philanthropist, spiritual mentor and best-selling author of The Practice. She has devoted more than 30 years to her studies with inspirational leaders such as Deepak Chopra, Thich Nhat Hanh and more. Believing that “outer peace begins with inner peace,” in 2011 Barb founded Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life to further serve those who seek to live a meaningful, happy life, and to fulfill her passion to bring peace to the world. Through this nonprofit, she teaches The Practice—a three-part guide to practical spirituality in today’s modern, and often chaotic, world.
Written on March 5, 2015 at 3:44 pm , by Rosalind Wiseman
Some questions about social media are an absolute breeze to answer: Why is my kid so obsessed with YikYak? What does PIR stand for? Then there are the queries that are a lot more complex: How much should I let my child use her phone? Should I monitor my child’s social life online?
I completely understand why parents want easy answers, like “Don’t let them sleep with their phones” or “Monitor their texts.” But it’s really hard for our children to take us seriously when we come up with strategies like that, and there’s a really good reason why: We’re hypocrites who often base our rules on anxiety instead of facts. Maybe you disagree with me, but before you do, consider the following four points.
1. We adults are as just as connected to our digital devices as our kids. Even as we’re nagging them to get off their screens, we don’t admit that we constantly check our phones when we’re bored or jump every time someone reaches out to us. And just like our kids, we convince ourselves that we always have a good reason for checking our email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
2. Many adults post about the same things our kids do. Sure, lots of parents describe their children’s online social lives as meaningless and a waste of time. They could be doing something more productive, like going outside and getting some fresh air. Right? Well, then tell me this: Why is what our children post about the party they went to last weekend more superficial than what we posted about the party we went to last weekend? And why do we spend so much time online when we should be getting some exercise or some sleep?
3. Some of us stalk other children online. Some folks think that being a responsible parent today means running surveillance as much and as often as possible about anything to do with their children. One of the best ways to do this is to get on the popular social networking platforms kids are using, such as Snapchat and Instagram, and ask kids to link or connect with you. The theory being that if they accept your invitation, you can see what these children are doing. I guess. But in my experience young people are highly incentivized to hide their personal lives from adults they know. So even if they do accept your invitation, if they’re doing something they don’t want adults to see, they’ll figure out a way to hide it. And lots of kids who get these “invitations” see them for what they are—a way for parents to spy on them. Not only do they blow off the parent but they know that parent is trying to infiltrate their lives so they know not to trust that person. Not a great way to build rapport.
4. Everyone our children meets online isn’t a dangerous predator. Can we give our kids a bit of credit? Our children are “meeting” people they don’t know online all the time—especially if they play games online. If they have a headset when they play games, they are definitely talking to other people. Some of those people are annoying; some of them say racist, sexist, homophobic or just rude things a lot. But they aren’t physically threatening to your child.
Here are the stats: The vast majority of young people who meet people online and then meet them in real life fit a very specific pattern. I’ll say it to you this way: In my many years of working with young people, every, and I mean every, young person I’ve known who met a stranger in real life they initially met online was a 13- to 16-year-old neglected and/or abused girl who desperately needed attention and love because she wasn’t getting it from the people she was supposed to. The reality is that a young person who is vulnerable to online predators almost always has something very wrong in their real life that makes them turn to strangers.
Bottom line: As a parenting “expert,” I can give you lots of rules for your children about their online lives—whatever device they’re using. But none of these rules will work unless you have a relationship with your child built on mutual respect and their seeing that you live your life according to the same values you’re holding them to.
Do you think there’s a double standard when it comes to kids’ and parents’ use of social media? Post a comment and tell me.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written on March 4, 2015 at 12:43 pm , by Suzanne Rust
By: Suzanne Rust
Photography by: Sara Rubinstein
Generally, we are born into a religion, but sometimes our faith arrives through thoughtful reflection. This was the case with Sheree R. Curry. Her family exposed her to various Christian practices, approaching them all with an open mind. But it was a comparative religion class in high school that introduced her to Judaism. She began studying with a rabbi at 17, converted at 18 and hasn’t looked back. Sheree now attends Adath Jeshurun Congregation, a large Conservative synagogue in Minnetonka, MN. Divorced from a Jewish man, the busy single mom is raising her two sons in her chosen faith and finding time to work with BlackandJewish.com, an online community she created for others to share their experiences.
Describe your family in three words.
Loving, funny, healthy and supportive—okay, that’s four words!
What religion did you practice growing up, and what was the appeal of Judaism?
I grew up exposed to various Christian religions through family, friends and schooling. My mother felt it was important that my sister and I explore religion and each choose one for ourselves. I took a comparative religion class as a teenager; we spent part of the year learning about what constitutes religions and how they are formed. We had to create our own individual religious doctrine for this course. Then we learned in-depth about various religions. I noticed more similarities in Judaism to the religion that I had created for myself at the start of the class. As a result, I began focusing on Judaism. At the age of 17 I began studying with a rabbi, and I ultimately converted to Judaism when I was 18.
How did your friends and family react to your choice?
Since I come from a very healthy and supportive family with a mix of religions, ethnicities and even nationalities, we are very comfortable in our differences. We are all steeped in faith and spirituality, thus my family remained quite supportive, but obviously curious. I was the first Jew in our family, so everyone had a lot of questions about customs, practices and differences. It was a learning experience for everyone. But because the process of becoming Jewish is not something that just happens overnight, it was gradual for everyone. I didn’t just spring it on them one day.
Have you always been made to feel comfortable in the Jewish community?
Well, I don’t think anyone has tried to make me feel uncomfortable in the Jewish community! But as with any convert, black or white or other ethnicity, one does tire of the question “How did you become Jewish?” I’ve been Jewish for more than 25 years now, so it gets a bit old. As does the assumption that because I am African American I must’ve converted, or converted to be with some guy. About 15 years ago I started an online community for Jews of color to share stories and experiences. Within the group you’ll find many African Americans who were born to a Jewish parent. We’ve shared stories of attending Jewish events and some others assuming we’re not Jewish and asking us to leave—it has happened.
Overall, I think most of us feel comfortable. But whether they are biracial Jews of color or identify as simply black Jews, I think one of the biggest concerns with feeling uncomfortable comes from the extended family of a white Jewish mate, and this can impact marriage and dating relationships. It’s one thing to befriend a black Jew at your synagogue; it can be totally different when your single, dating adult child says, “Guess who’s coming to dinner?”
I have found that the black-white combination within the Jewish community, for Jews who strongly culturally identify as Jewish, is still rare compared to a Jew who dates a white Christian, for example. A lot of these relationships, and even some of my own, have been impacted by the negative pressure the white Jewish mate may initially receive from their own extended family. The sentiment is often that they feel caught in the middle. That was something my own ex-husband said. At one point before we married my mate told me that his parents even said they’d rather see him marry a non-Jewish Asian than a black Jew. Imagine the kind of pressure that puts on a young couple starting out. I’d say overall during the marriage everyone tried to get along, but eventually our marriage ended in divorce.
What does Passover mean to you and how do you celebrate? Do you have any personal traditions?
For my oldest son’s first Passover, when he was just a few months old, I created a family Haggadah that we still use today. The Haggadah is the booklet we use to tell the story of the slaves’ freedom from Pharaoh, but in our booklet we also tell the story of the freedom of American slaves. Although this is a holiday that lends itself well to the merging of our family’s two histories of being black and Jewish, this should not be limited to just the households of black Jews. All of us should remember and celebrate the freedom and right to freedom of all people.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about Judaism?
The biggest misconception about Judaism is that it is a race of people. It is not. It is a religion and a culture. A lot of the culture stems from the regions of the world where certain Jews are concentrated. Most people are more familiar with Ashkenazi Jewish culture, consisting primarily of Eastern European traditions. But there are Sephardi Jews, with more Spanish culture, and Yemenite Jews, who stemmed from the Mideast and African regions. A lot of the culture of each of these sets of Jews will be more similar to the culture of those around them who are not even Jewish. Hummus is not a Jewish food. It is a Middle Eastern dish. Knishes are not exactly a Jewish food. They are basically pierogis, all stemming from cultures in Eastern Europe. Sure, different sects of people may put their own twists on a recipe, but that does not make us Jews a race of people. If people started thinking of Judaism more as a religion instead of as a race of people, they would be less shocked that there are Jews native to India who look just like other Indians. And Jews native to Ethiopia who look just like other Ethiopians. And there are black American Jews too.
But the world is becoming more and more aware that Judaism is a religion, not a race, and one that comes in many different flavors and colors. More people know of a black or Asian or Hispanic Jew, even if it is just a celebrity, like Drake or Rashida Jones.
What do you love most about your boys?
My two boys are very inquisitive and loving, and they care about others and they really care about each other. I hear stories of people who are at odds with their teens and tweens, and I am blessed that my boys inherited a lot of my family’s mild temperament and solid values.
What are the biggest challenges of being a single parent?
My challenges may be different from those of a single mom whose kids’ father is not in the picture. We have shared custody, so the biggest challenge, in some ways, is the same as it would be in any two-parent household: making sure that both of us, as mom and dad, are on the same page when it comes to major decisions for our children and finding ways to compromise when we disagree. Another challenge is just knowing that it does take a village. Since we don’t have other immediate family living in town who can pitch in when the boys have to be at different events or activities at the same time in different parts of the metro area, I often turn to friends who can help carpool the kids to activities. Or in some cases the boys know that they’ll have to do a joint activity or pick ones in the same facility, in order to make coordinating schedules a lot easier on everyone.
What’s your spin on finding that perfect work-life balance?
I am very devoted to my kids and their activities. I was a Cub Scout den leader, for example (not a den mom, which is different). So sure, a lot of nonworking hours were spent still being a part of my children’s lives. But again, since I am a coparent with their dad and the boys spend part of the week living at his house, I try to plan more of my personal professional development activities or fun activities for the days that the boys are with their dad. It might mean occasionally missing out on something the boys are involved in, but I am still like many other moms: My kids come first.
What’s the best part of your day?
Coming home to my two boys at the end of a workday. Honestly. It’s nice when your kids are happy to see you come home or when you pick them up from school. Since they don’t spend every day and every night with me, we all treasure the time that we do have together and the moments we are not running from activity to activity.
As an African American Jewish woman, you must have some curious anecdotes. Any funny ones you’d care to share?
There have been several occasions when I’ve met someone and they’ve assumed that I am some other black Jewish woman they’ve met before. “No, that’s not me, but I do know her,” I say. And it’s often true that I know the person. That’s not so much a testament that all blacks know each other, as it probably is that Jews play what we call “Jewish geography.” The Jewish community is small and we often know each other or know someone who does. Now, given the limited size of the black and Jewish community, and that I am involved on a national level in several groups for Jews of color, it is not so surprising that I know other Jews who happen to be black.
Written on March 3, 2015 at 6:37 pm , by Family Circle Momster blog
Heart disease is responsible for one in four deaths in the U.S. every year, but this mom of three was able to beat it—and you could too. In an eye-opening guest post, she describes her battle with cardiovascular disease and the serious symptoms she ignored that you never should.
By JULIA ALLEN
The bathroom floor at my job was cold and felt good against my face as I was lying there out of breath, dry heaving and dizzy. “Get up. Get back to work,” I kept telling myself.
That was Friday, April 15, 2013, the day my life changed forever. But it started out like any other. I got up at 6:30 a.m., before my three boys—Brock, 14, Bryce, 11, and Miles, 7—and worked myself into a typical frenzy trying to get everyone dressed, fed and out the door on time.
I arrived at my job as branch supervisor at a bank and went through my regular routine: answering emails, dialing into conference calls and putting out fires. Suddenly, I felt a twisting pain in my chest and had difficulty taking my next breath. Then came heartburn, jaw tightening and, the worst part, nausea. An hour later, around 9:30 a.m., I was lying on those bathroom tiles in hopes of calming down and feeling better.
At first, I convinced myself it was the flu. But I told myself I needed to save my sick days for when my kids became ill. I didn’t want to incur unnecessary bills or wait in the emergency room only to hear that nothing was seriously wrong. I needed to be at work to make sure my team was okay. Clearly, my own health and well-being were not a priority!
The symptoms came and went several times throughout that day, but as the hours passed, they only became more intense. Eventually I remembered a billboard about heart disease and the color red I had previously spotted on the highway in Charlotte, so I decided to Google it and found the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign. As I sat at my desk scrolling through the tales of brave women sharing their experiences, I realized I was fighting the reality that I too could be having a heart attack.
Six hours after my initial symptoms appeared, I called my husband and doctor to explain what I was feeling. They both told me to go straight to the hospital, but I still couldn’t put myself first. After leaving work, I first stopped at home to leave my family a note and make some snacks for the kids.
Almost as soon as I got to the front desk of the ER around 2:30 p.m., I collapsed. I had my second heart attack in the hospital that evening. I lay in bed thinking, “Is this really it? Is life ending this way?” I had so many goals I still wanted to achieve. I prayed to God that he would let me live. And he did.
I was in the hospital for about five days. The doctor told me I needed to lose weight, exercise more, cut back on salt and sugar and, most important, put my own health at the top of my to-do list. I then spent three months doing cardiac rehab, which included monitored cardio and strengthen training, nutrition counseling and therapy.
Since my family has a history of heart disease, everyone has been tested and we’ve made changes to our food habits and physical activity. To start, my kids, husband and I each suggested one swap, which included avoiding sugary drinks like fruit punch and soda, adding more fruits and veggies to school lunches, giving up sweet cereals, eliminating fried foods, opting for leaner meats and having healthier snacks like yogurt, nuts and granola. I also began drinking a daily green smoothie (I love them!) and taking a walk every day during lunch. Now we’re all focused on heart-healthy living.
Some days are harder than others, but I make one good-for-me choice at a time—and my family is my motivation. The greatest lesson I’ve learned through this ordeal is that being healthy includes mind, body and soul. They all work together. So to other women I say, slow down, take care of your beautiful self and, please, make your heart a priority!
Julia Allen is 46 years old and lives in Charlotte, NC. She’s a proud two-time heart attack survivor and national spokeswoman for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women.
Written on February 26, 2015 at 10:38 am , by Mallory Creveling
Remember that goal you set a little over a month ago? The one about losing weight or exercising more? According to data from Gold’s Gym, that motivation you had on January 1st is probably waning right now. In fact, February 24th (deemed the “fitness cliff”) is the day that check-in numbers drop and never rebound. But we want you to defy those odds and get pumped about getting in shape again. So we asked Jeff Na, vice president of fitness for Gold’s Gym, to reveal his top tips for boosting your enthusiasm for health. “The only difference between January 1st and February 24th is prioritization,” he says. Make exercise a must-do again, reevaluate what you wanted to achieve and why, and adopt these ideas to get back on track.
Focus on the details
“The clients who see the best results come in not just with a goal in mind but with the steps for how to get there,” says Na. So if you made a general target of dropping 10 pounds, figure out a realistic time frame for getting there (probably about five weeks), how often you’ll exercise and healthy meal options. Then put each workout and kitchen prep day on your calendar so you can plan ahead. If want to remove the guesswork, sign up for a program like Gold’s Gym 12-Week Transformation Plan or Michelle Bridges’ 12 Week Body Transformation.
Find something exciting
Even before you start feeling bored with your usual routine, you should have an idea of how to switch things up and keep your regimen fresh. Otherwise, when your workout starts feeling too bland, it’ll fall to your B-list of priorities. Look at your local health club’s schedule to see if one of the classes seems enticing, or chat with a fitness-loving friend for a suggestion. “Group classes are great for workout newbies because they give you a sense of community and some professional instruction,” says Na. You may find that Pilates or Spinning naturally keeps you coming back for more. If you can’t get to a class, try a new walking route or fitness DVD. Adding variety to your schedule keeps you interested mentally and challenges your muscles physically so you don’t hit a plateau.
Reduce injury risk
Many people skip a proper warm-up and cool-down, but going from no movement to intense exercise or stopping immediately afterward increases your risk of strained ligaments or other overuse issues—which puts you off the workout wagon longer. Just take an easy stroll for about five minutes to up your heart rate and lightly stretch any tight muscles. When you’re done sweating it out, take another five minutes for deeper stretches.
Get back to basics
“Your body is your best machine,” says Na. “That’s why fitness professionals often recommend body-weight-only exercises—they translate to the movements you do in everyday life and make them easier.” So squeeze in some squats, lunges, push-ups and rows whenever you can. And when your body gets sick of those moves, add resistance with dumbbells or bands.
Make it a family affair
You shouldn’t be the only one at home who’s moving more often. Get the kids involved in your physical plans by doing a yoga DVD together or taking a walk outside (just bundle up!). Try organizing a quick team workout by doing jumping jacks before dinner or running in place during the commercials of your favorite show. It gives you time to bond with your kids and get everyone healthier, plus you’ll set an active trend for your teens and tweens to mimic when they’re older.
Don’t forget food
If you haven’t seen any results, it may be because you haven’t paid enough attention to your diet. Keep a journal for one week, writing down everything you eat, and then figure out what you need to cut back on. It’s best to munch on more foods that are close to their original source (read: no pre-packaged meals) and to create a realistic diet plan. For instance, if you aim to cut out all sweets, you’ll probably want to revert to your overeating habits in a few days. Instead, make portion sizes smaller.
Written on February 17, 2015 at 12:02 pm , by Family Circle
Leora Tanenbaum, author of the newly released I Am Not a Slut: Slut-Shaming in the Age of the Internet, sheds light on some dark and dangerous behavior. By APRIL MCFADDEN
While boys are often encouraged to explore their sexuality, girls must usually toe the tricky line between being alluring but not lewd. These days that sexual double standard is more difficult than ever to navigate. In this Q&A with Family Circle, author Leora Tanenbaum, who coined the term “slut-bashing” back in the 90s, helps us understand the struggles girls encounter today and explains how every parent can more responsibly raise a kid in the Internet age.
You break down the difference between slut-bashing and slut-shaming in your book. Why is it important for parents to know the difference?
Because the effects of each get played out differently. Slut-shaming isn’t necessarily repeated—it could be a one-time thing and the intent may not even be negative. I haven’t met any female in the United States under the age of 25 who has not been called a “slut” or a “ho” in some context, usually more than once. But slut-bashing is a very specific form of harassment that takes place over time and the intent is to hurt. Slut-bashing makes life horrible for a girl. What they have in common is that regardless of the intent, at the end of the day female sexuality is being policed and the sexual double standard is being reinforced and hammered in. We need to pay attention to both experiences.
How can parents allow their daughters to experiment with femininity without letting them fall into harmful categories?
You don’t ever want to tell her or make her feel that she is a slut. You want her to feel good about her body, her sexuality and her clothing choices. If you strongly believe that her clothing is inappropriate for her age or for the occasion, you need to talk with her about it. Say something supportive that gives her space like, “Wow! You look fantastic in that outfit, but there are so many people out there that aren’t as enlightened as we are about girls revealing their bodies. And unfortunately there are people who may treat you like a sexual object if you wear that outfit.”
What critical lessons should parents teach their sons about this?
Talk about consent with your children, boys and girls, and explain that consent is never present unless it has been verbally communicated. I think that’s really essential. It’s probably the most important thing many parents aren’t doing that we should be doing that better. It’s never ever too soon to talk about sexual consent.
What is your opinion about the recent campus sexual assault movement, including It’s On Us, Know Your IX and Carry That Weight?
I feel invigorated by the movement. It ties into this culture of slut-shaming where so many people—including women—believe that it’s acceptable to have sex with a girl even if she hasn’t actually said yes. They think, “Well, because she’s a ‘slut’ or a ‘ho’ it doesn’t matter what she says.” And this is certainly true in high schools too.
What can parents learn from stories like Jada’s from the #IAmJada campaign?
I do find those individual examples of girls talking back and raising awareness really great, but they’re kids and that should not be their responsibility. That should be our responsibility. We need to be the ones orchestrating that and helping the young people in our lives.
What is the most shocking thing you discovered while writing I Am Not a Slut?
How people hate the “slut” so much—even if she’s somebody they don’t know—that they will tell her she should kill herself or that she shouldn’t be alive.
What is one thing you would ask parents to change when it comes to slut-shaming?
Never, ever use words like “slut” or “ho,” even in a lighthearted or joking way. Just never use them, because our kids look to us as role models and if we make it acceptable then it becomes acceptable to them.
Leora Tanenbaum is the author of the newly released I Am Not a Slut: Slut-Shaming in the Age of the Internet. She is also senior writer and editor at Planned Parenthood Federation of America and a mom of two boys.
Written on February 12, 2015 at 4:26 pm , by Mallory Creveling
This story will help you save your own life. That’s because one in four deaths in the U.S. each year are caused by heart disease, making it the number one killer of women. But right here is where you’ll learn how to outsmart the condition. Just a few simple swaps in your day-to-day routine can lower your odds of cardiovascular disease by more than 80%. “It’s empowering to know that our lifestyle choices can eradicate the top risk factors,” says Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, a cardiologist and a spokesperson for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women. So in honor of February being Heart Month, we asked Steinbaum to share her best strategies for avoiding leading risk factors for the disease.
Danger zone: Obesity
How to dodge it: Catch more shut-eye
Getting those coveted seven hours of zzz’s isn’t only important for being alert the next day—it’s vital for your physical well-being too. People who don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk of being overweight or obese. Make it easy to doze off in your room by removing the TV and computer, cleaning up any clutter and making a to-do list for the next day, then leaving it in another room. Also, give yourself ample time to relax before closing your eyes.
Danger zone: High blood pressure
How to dodge it: Get zen
“There’s an important link between our mind and our heart,” says Steinbaum. “How we feel affects our cardiovascular status.” Wind down by incorporating stress management into your daily schedule. Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and yoga, have been shown to lower blood pressure, but you can also squeeze in simple breathing exercises. That could be as easy as taking a few minutes to focus on inhaling and exhaling while waiting for your kids at school. All these practices help decrease stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) and inflammatory markers in the body that are released during a stress response and temporarily cause your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to constrict.
Danger zone: Diabetes
How to dodge it: Make moves
Several studies have shown that one mega-beneficial workout method for those with diabetes is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This involves short bursts of difficult exercise followed by brief periods of active rest. “A big mistake people make when doing HIIT is letting their heart rate drop too low at the recovery intervals,” says Steinbaum. Track your numbers by wearing a monitor, like the FitBit Charge HR ($150) or Garmin Forerunner 15 ($140). To find your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. Don’t let your heart rate fall below 75% of max during the less-intense intervals; you should be at 90% to 95% during the rigorous ones. Fitness novices take note, though: HIIT can be hard on your joints, so ease into it. The more in shape you get, the longer and more extreme the intervals should become.
Danger zone: High cholesterol
How to dodge it: Revamp your diet
In general, aim for 1,800 to 2,000 calories a day of primarily fruits, vegetables, fiber-filled legumes and nuts, which provide good-for-you fats. Opt for fish rich in omega-3s to help lower your bad LDL cholesterol. Limit items loaded with saturated fat, like full-fat dairy products, butter and red meats, and cut back on trans fats, found in many processed and fast foods. Also, keep your salt intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams a day. (For a full refresher on what your plate should look like, go here.)
Danger zone: Smoking
How to dodge it: Quit ASAP
Smoking is the most preventable risk factor for heart disease, one that every woman can and should avoid. Stop cold turkey, chew gum, wear a patch or head to cessation seminars—whatever method works for you. (Also, encourage your kids to never pick up a cigarette, even electronic ones. A study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found that teens who used e-cigarettes were more likely to smoke the conventional type.) To stop for good, it’s also essential to avoid any triggers that make you want a puff, like a morning coffee break or post-work happy hour with friends.
Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, is a cardiologist and the director of Women’s Heart Health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. She’s also the mother of a son and author of Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum’s Heart Book: Every Woman’s Guide to a Heart-Healthy Life—Reduce the Effects of Stress, Promote Heart Health, and Restore the Balance in Your Life. You can learn more about her at srsheart.com.
Written on February 10, 2015 at 11:39 am , by Mallory Creveling
If you’ve started sweating to our March fitness story but want to turn up the burn, these intensified moves will do it. Follow the 5-, 10- or 15-minute plan in the magazine, but swap out the modified versions in print for the exercises below. (Most of them include explosive jumps to increase the cardio and fat-melting effects.) Also, each time you perform a routine, aim to increase the number of reps you do in 30 seconds and eliminate any breaks you may have needed between each move. These simple switches will help you torch even more calories on the way to a trim, toned new you!
Instead of Modified Tuck Jumps…
Do Leaping Tuck Jumps
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms bent, elbows up to form a T at your chest with your fingers stacked. Press the hips back into a squat and instead of just lifting one leg at a time, immediately jump upward as high as you can, driving the knees toward your arms. Land softly on the mid-foot, rolling back to the heels and pushing the hips back to absorb the impact of the landing. Repeat.
Instead of 3-Point Plankers…
Do 3-Point Plank Jumps
Start in push-up position. With your hands flat on the floor and wrists under your shoulders, jump (don’t step!) the feet as close as you can to the outside of the left hand. Return to start. Jump feet as close as you can to the outside of your right hand. Return to start. Jump feet between hands. Return to start. Continue switching between left, right and middle as fast as possible.
Instead of Standing Mountain Climbers…
Do Sprinting Mountain Climbers
Stand with feet hip-width apart, hands in front of shoulders with palms facing forward. Instead of just lifting your knees, add more power as you jump and raise your left knee to hip height and your right fingertips to the sky. Jump to switch sides, shooting your left fingertips to the sky as you raise your right knee to hip height. Continue alternating.
Instead of Tap-Ups…
Do Tougher Tap-Ups
Start in regular push-up position, with your knees off the floor and your body in a straight line from shoulders to ankles. Tap your left shoulder with your right fingertips. Return to start. Tap your right shoulder with your left fingertips. Return to start. Then perform a regular push-up, lowering down as close to the floor as possible. Return to start and repeat.
Instead of Star Bursts…
Do Explosive Star Bursts
Stand with feet together. Bend the knees and push your hips back into a low squat, engaging your core and drawing your arms into the center of your body. Pause briefly, then jump up as high as you can, extending your arms and both legs out to form an X. Land softly on your feet, absorbing the jump by bending your knees and pushing your hips back. Repeat.
Instead of Power Thrusts…
Do Hardcore Power Thrusts
Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart. Squat down, placing your hands on the floor, wrists under your shoulders. Jump your feet back so you’re at the top of a push-up position. Immediately return both feet to the squat position. Explosively jump up off the floor, shooting your fingertips to the sky and bringing your knees up toward your chest. Land softly on the mid-foot, rolling back to the heels and pushing your hips back to absorb the impact. Repeat.
Instead of Pencil Squats…
Do Hopping Pencil Squats
Stand with your feet together, arms raised overhead at shoulder width. Hop the feet apart to drop down into a low squat and touch the floor just between your ankles. Jump to return to the starting position.
Written on February 10, 2015 at 11:21 am , by Suzanne Rust
By: Suzanne Rust
Photography by: John Huba
When they were younger, despite their artistic tendencies, Hannah Sessions thought she might become a lawyer and Greg Bernhardt imagined a career in education. So how did they wind up down on the farm? A love of Vermont and good food plus a yearning for a bucolic lifestyle and creative work inspired the couple to invest in a property that they converted to a goat dairy. Fifteen years later, their Blue Ledge Farm boasts 140 goats and produces award-winning artisan cheeses. Now these first-generation farmers cannot image a better life for their family of four.
Which three words best describe your family?
Active, creative, earnest.
What made you choose a goat dairy and cheese making operation?
Goats were an affordable alternative to cows when it came to the capital investment involved in starting a dairy. We always had our sights set on making cheese and we were very excited by the diversity of cheeses you can make with goat’s milk. Lastly, we felt like there was room in the market for excellent artisanal goat cheese. Hannah says that since getting to know goats and their personalities, she would be hard-pressed to work with any other animal.
What is the most rewarding thing about your lifestyle? What is the most challenging?
The things that are the most rewarding are also the most challenging! It is very rewarding to work where we live, and that is also the greatest challenge. Working where you live allows you to be very efficient with your time, to multi-task and to seamlessly blend family and work life together. We get to work together every day, and we are available for our kids.
It is also challenging because you never actually leave your place of work and there is always something that needs tending to. It is rewarding to be deeply connected to weather and the seasons, but that, of course, it also very challenging as weather dictates our ability to harvest feed and many other things. It is wonderful to live with the companionship of hundreds of animals, but challenging to never travel because we are responsible for their care.
You are both first generation farmers. What are the biggest misconceptions about farm life?
One big misconception is that farming is easy, and anyone who can hoe a row of lettuce or muck out a pig pen can do it. You do have to do physical, dirty jobs from time to time, but farming is high tech and takes an incredible amount of knowledge. We wear many “hats”: plumber, electrician, veterinarian, mechanic, accountant, public relations, builder, and graphic designer to name a few. We weren’t born into a farming family so we have learned to gather knowledge when and where we can! Fortunately, folks more experienced than us have been very generous with their time since the birth of Blue Ledge Farm. And we can always “Google it”!
How hands-on are you two at this point? Do either of you actually milk the 80 goats twice a day?
Hannah manages the herd of 140 goats and is very active in vaccinating, breeding and general care of the animals, and takes a few milking shifts per week. We have a great team of milkers so that no one person is burdened with milking twice a day!
Greg manages the cheese production, but between making hay, keeping the books and maintaining operations about the farm, our cheese maker, Megan, has her hands in more actual cheese curds than he does.
What do you love most about the cheese making process?
I enjoy seeing the development from milk, to curd, to a formed shape, and then a fully aged cheese. I also like the fact that we are creating a product that is nourishing to body and soul. (Greg)
How do the kids help around the farm?
Our kids are busy with their school and sports lives during the academic year. They will bottle feed kids during kidding season and in the summer they help harvest hay, give farm tours to visitors, and they sell cheese at our local farmer’s market. Like all of the farm kids I’ve ever known, they are willing to lend a hand when needed!
How do you think they are benefitting from the life you have chosen?
Our kids have never wondered what it is that their parents actually do for a living. They see us working, and they understand that hard work and diligence makes an idea reality. They have a lot of pride in the product that we produce and our part in the community.
Were you two always very environmentally conscious, or did that come once you started working on the farm?
Hannah was voted “most environmental” in high school, and both were vegetarians before starting Blue Ledge Farm and raising their own animals for meat.
Did either of you ever imagine that you would be running a dairy farm?
No, Hannah thought she would be a lawyer and Greg thought teaching was his future. We both always aspired to be artists.
You are both painters. Tell me a bit about that creative side and how you make time for it.
We paint during the slower months on the farm (September through March), but a painter never really stops working! We are always craving more time in the studio, but the farm, the landscape, and our animals are our muse, our subject matter, and our source of inspiration. I think our deep connection to these things comes through in our paintings, and if we weren’t constantly juggling the farm and the art, our paintings might be missing something.
Any short “farm bloopers” to share?
Years ago we answered a local ad for three piglets, so wild that they were “free to anyone who can catch them!” We felt we were up for the challenge but after chasing piglets for two hours we drove away with one lone piglet in the back of the truck. After stopping in town for a quick errand we headed for home, only to discover upon arrival that the lone piglet had in fact escaped from the truck! What followed was three days of heavy rain and no sign of the pig. Then, out of the blue we get a call from a nearby town “you missing a piglet?” The poor pig had taken residence under a porch, chasing away their dog. With help, we went and retrieved the piglet. How this person traced the piglet back to us is still a bit of a mystery– small town Vermont!
For more information check out: www.blueledgefarm.com
Written on February 10, 2015 at 10:03 am , by Rosalind Wiseman
It’s one of the most common parenting slogans we hear, affirmed by everyone from politicians to pediatricians: “It takes a village.” On the face of it, that’s true. But when you really think about it, there are a lot of assumptions going on here. Like, that everyone in the village agrees about the way to raise children. Or that everyone in the village is a mature adult who knows how and when to get involved in children’s lives.
I don’t know about your village, but in mine there are all sorts of people. Some of them I definitely want helping me out with my kids. Some of them…not so much. Plus, I’ve seen countless times when we actually have a problem involving our kids that also happens to involve other people (teachers, coaches, other parents, other kids) in our village.
At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself: Do you trust your village or not? Why do so many of us assume the worst of our village’s intentions? And how do you define your village? The first two questions you’ll have to answer yourself. But the last I can help with. Here are the top three ways to create your village.
1. Identify the most important characteristics of your “villagers.” Mine are:
* treats kids with dignity,
* is comfortable calling children out when they do something boneheaded,
* is warmhearted (they can still be tough on the outside) and not a pushover
* laughs when kids make “foolish” mistakes
* and—most important—knows my children and still likes them.
2. With these characteristics in mind, try to identify two people who have most of these attributes in each of your smaller villages: at your child’s school, in your neighborhood, among your friends, your family and adults in your children’s extracurricular activities (that includes coaches, of course).
3. Make a list for yourself. You don’t have to go up to each of these people and tell them they’ve officially made your list, but write it down so you don’t forget it when you need it most.
The next step in the process is considering how you’ll use them when the moment comes. Read this letter from a mother who recently emailed me and see how her village worked.
Just as my 15-year-old son was supposed to get out of the car to go to school (already 5 minutes late), he mentioned he was being bullied there. He went on to school. I watched him walk in so he couldn’t ditch. Then I called his counselor at school, who checked on him today. When I picked him up I asked if he wanted to talk and he said, “Not now.” In the past I would have pushed him to talk right away, but I gave him space and he came to me later in the afternoon and we talked.
This is a difficult moment for any parent. Her 15-year-old son (a group not known for talking about their problems) drops a bomb as he’s getting out of the car. He did that on purpose. He wanted to tell her, but he didn’t want to talk to her about it.
She could have run after him. She could have run into the school assuming that the school would do nothing about it unless she broke into the principal’s office. But she didn’t. She thought about what would work for her son. She didn’t let her emotions get the best of her. She reached out to her (and, most important, her son’s) village by contacting his counselor and asking him to check in on her son. She trusted that the process would work. Then she gave her son a little bit of space, and her son reacted by telling her what happened—when he was ready.
Who’s in your village? And do you trust them? Post a comment and tell me.
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 email@example.com.