Written on September 5, 2014 at 4:50 pm , by Family Circle
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.
Written on September 4, 2014 at 12:58 pm , by Suzanne Rust
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Written on September 4, 2014 at 11:10 am , by Janet Taylor
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?
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.
Got a question for Dr. Janet? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written on September 4, 2014 at 10:30 am , by Family Circle Momster blog
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.
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.
Written on September 2, 2014 at 8:30 am , by Family Circle Momster blog
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.
Written on August 28, 2014 at 5:20 pm , by Rosalind Wiseman
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.
Written on August 27, 2014 at 1:06 pm , by Family Circle Momster blog
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.
Written on August 26, 2014 at 9:30 am , by Family Circle Momster blog
By Lisa Mandel, Family Circle digital director
I’ve found myself in dressing rooms all over the tri-state area vowing to start a diet this very second about a million times. Okay maybe two million. But I usually lose my mojo by lunchtime the next day. A good run would take me through the work week, but I’d never survive a weekend. So nobody was more surprised than me to find myself at the 14th day of a two-week commitment to road test The Fast Metabolism Diet by Haylie Pomroy—and ready to stick with it for another 14 days!
It all started three weeks earlier, when my prep for the diet began. I read The Fast Metabolism Diet and started to visualize myself following the plan, losing weight and finally slipping easily into my cropped white jeans. All that mental exercise propelled me, a few days later, to Sunday evening, which I spent shopping and preparing several staple foods so I’d have them at the ready.
I wanted to do all I could to set myself up for success this time, so:
1. I told a bunch of people I was doing this diet. I wanted to be accountable to others. Layer on that I’d be dieting for a story in the magazine and alongside seven colleagues. We’d be able to support and encourage one another, and maybe even compete to stick to our respective plans.
2. I allowed myself some caffeine and alcohol. The diet requires you to completely avoid dairy, wheat, corn, refined sugar, caffeine and alcohol. I decided to take the low road and drink one cup of organic coffee each day with a splash of rice or almond milk. I do have to live among other people, so being a complete and total bear will not fly. Caffeine was reduced, not eliminated. And on gorgeous July evenings when the sun set well past 8 p.m., I would not “cheat” but rather “allow” myself to have a few glasses of wine (not all at once) and enjoy lean meats that might have been marinated in something other than lemon juice and organic broth.
3. I changed my definition of success, which can be measured in more than just pounds lost. An equally important goal for me is to just plain feel better. I want to wake up energized and refreshed. I’m hoping that taking a break from processed foods and empty carbs will result in some type of change.
Clearly, I was not a religious convert to the Fast Metabolism Diet, as many people are. For me there was a lot to remember: Cauliflower is okay, but only in phase 3. Yes to watermelon, but only if it’s a phase 1 or 2 day. But I did carve out a version of the diet that I could manage and that I was dedicated to sticking to. And I liked it. And I lost 4.8 pounds. And, here’s the best part, I felt great. Not because I looked less fat—although it feels pretty good to zip my jeans and not see the dreaded spillover.
I felt great because I was proud of myself for sticking to the goals I’d set. I slept more soundly, I felt more clearheaded and I had noticeably more energy. I was suddenly game to clean out the linen closet. On a weeknight. After work. (Who does that?)
After I’d survived a friend’s backyard party and managed to eat 4 ounces of boiled shrimp, salad and crudités, eschewing absolutely every other extremely delicious thing served except two glasses of Chardonnay, I noticed I felt satisfied and victorious. I knew from that moment on I could do it again, at the next dinner or the next time there were cupcakes on the free table at work. (You try working at a magazine where the fabulous desserts you see in our pages are tested and tested again and then given to staffers at right about 3:30 p.m.— just when your sweet tooth is sweet-talking you.)
Bonus outcome: I made some changes in food choices for the diet that I’m guessing will be lifelong changes for me–and for my kids. We all loved quinoa and wild rice just as much as white rice and couscous. Turns out roasted sweet potatoes are delicious (and much sweeter) than less-nutritious white potatoes. But nothing is sweeter than success!
Have you ever tried the Fast Metabolism Diet? Post a comment and tell us about it.
Written on August 25, 2014 at 12:07 pm , by Caren Oppenheim
This week’s featured chef is Instagram user @skittykitty66 who made Spiced Scrolls from one of our cookbooks!
Written on August 21, 2014 at 1:33 pm , by Rosalind Wiseman
“Back to school” is about getting back into the groove of a more structured life. It’s about buying supplies in time—not for the first day of classes but before they’re out of stock. It’s about what teachers your kid got and if they’re loved or hated.
But guess what it’s also about for a lot of kids? Crushes. The horribly awesome, terrifying, nerve-racking experience of seeing someone for the first time and falling for them hard. It could be their hair, the way they say hello, their cool red jacket, whatever—doesn’t matter. In an instant, the world will never be the same. And even if they don’t have a crush on someone, chances are good they’re going to have a friend who does and that will upend their world too.
Being aware of crushes falls into the parenting gray zone. You don’t want to stalk the school hallways or wait for your child to come home and immediately ask them about their or anyone else’s love life. Really…you don’t. Even though you may want to. But you do need to be aware of crushes as the possible source of your child’s weird mood swings. Or the potential reason behind a sudden increase in the amount of time spent texting. (They’re discussing with a friend exactly how the crush said “Hi” or how the crush affects social dynamics between your child and his or her friends.)
It’s really important to remember that crushes and puppy love aren’t insignificant. Just because kids are only holding hands or simply staring at each other doesn’t mean the feelings they have are meaningless. Take a minute to remember your first crush and how you felt around that person. See? Not meaningless. So don’t say things in front of your child about how fleeting crushes are or how they don’t really matter.
And just because I said no stalking, that doesn’t mean you can’t talk to your child. Sometime when it’s calm and quiet, like at the end of the day, you can say something like this.
YOU: Now that you’re in sixth grade, you might notice that people can get crushes on each other or really like each other.
YOUR KID: Mom…I really don’t want to talk about this.
YOU: This is going to be brief but it’s important to me that you hear this. Having a crush can feel great. It can also feel terrible. And it can feel both at the same time. Sometimes friends can get involved and make the whole thing even weirder. Feelings can be confusing. You don’t have to talk to me about any of this but you can if you want. Regardless, here are four things I want you to keep in mind.
1. Friends shouldn’t be mean to you or deliberately embarrass you about your crush. If your friend has a crush, the same rules apply about what you say to them.
2. If you have a crush and you get rejected it’s not going to be easy, but you can’t be rude or mean in person or online. If your friend has a crush and they get rejected, I don’t want you to join in if they start going after the person either.
3. Friends don’t have to agree with why the crush is so crush-worthy. If your friend thinks that the crush isn’t cute, that’s okay. Friends can disagree. What’s not cool is if a friend makes fun of liking the crush or embarrasses you in front of other people.
4. Sometimes friends, even really close friends, can have a crush on the same person. Covert operations to make the competition look bad almost always backfire and destroy the friendship.
Remember, these experiences are important, so if you ever do want to talk about it, I hope you can talk to me or someone else about them. Okay, I’m done unless there’s anything you want to ask.
Then don’t wait around with an intense mom or dad expression on your face that signals to your child that you expect to have a deep, meaningful conversation. Just walk away. I promise that if you do, they are much more likely to come to you when they want to get something off their chest.
On the flip side, if your child is the loved one, it can feel great—or really awkward, depending on how they feel about the person who likes them. What’s most important: no humiliating the other person if they don’t like them.
And I have one pet peeve: If your child tells you that a kid of the opposite sex hits them at school or teases them, please don’t say with a grin on your face, “I think they like you.” And definitely don’t say, “You know why they’re probably doing that? Because they have a crush on you!” (See my previous post, “7 Words You Shouldn’t Say to Your Kid.”)
We don’t want to teach our children that an acceptable way to show you like someone is to be mean to them. Plus, we weren’t there. Maybe the other child doesn’t like your kid and now you’re enabling your kid to read the situation wrong. Maybe other children were teasing the child about liking your son or daughter, so they felt forced to be mean to them to make the matchmaking and teasing stop. If our children tell us these things, we can say:
That’s too bad. Maybe I can ask you some questions to help you think it through. Did it feel playful or mean? Did they do it around other people?
Let’s use this as an opportunity to teach our kids how to tell when someone likes them, how to be respectful when the feelings aren’t mutual, and how to be a good friend through it all. Handling all this is tricky stuff. We have to be ready to ask thoughtful questions so our kids can navigate this really rocky terrain—and then do their homework, their sports activities, their chores…It’s a lot.
Written on August 20, 2014 at 11:30 am , by Family Circle
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.
Written on August 19, 2014 at 10:30 am , by Lynya Floyd
For the feature “Losing It!” in our October issue, writer Sheryl Kraft chronicled the weight-loss journeys of Family Circle staffers who agreed to try out six popular diets. But we put more than six plans to the test! Check out how one of our editorial assistants fared on a doctor-approved detox.
The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet
Best for: Moms who are committed to change and can afford the essential supplements required
Tester’s Weight Loss: 5 pounds
Reducing insulin levels is the key to losing weight, says Mark Hyman, MD, creator of this “reboot” diet that claims to bring your metabolism back into balance and activate your body’s ability to burn fat. Sugar and carbs are enemy territory, causing everything from type 2 diabetes to sexual dysfunction, he explains. Based on whole foods high in fiber and low in sugar and starch, the diet—which asserts you can lose an average of 8 pounds—eliminates gluten, grains, dairy, alcohol and caffeine. Instead, it stresses good-quality grass-fed animal protein, nuts, seeds, tofu, fruits and veggies.
Typical Meal: Skinless, boneless chicken encrusted with red chili pesto; sautéed spinach
Shopping List Surprises: Raw nut butters, tahini, Kalamata olives, almond milk
Supplements: Our friends at The Vitamin Shoppe helped Lauren pick out the best brands for all the pills the diet required, including vitamin D3, alpha lipoic acid, green tea catechins, PGX fiber and more.
Ease of Use: 3 (5-Very Simple, 1-Just About Impossible)
Taste Factor: 4 (5-Every Meal Was Great, 1-It Was Barely Edible)
Time Factor: 3 (5-Putting Meals Together Was a Snap, 1-It Was Too Much Work)
Hunger Factor: 1 (5-Very Satisfying, 1-Stomach Always Growling)
Although our editorial assistant Lauren knew she needed this “kick starter” to lose the extra weight she’d recently gained, her admitted lack of self-control made her a bit nervous. But Lauren’s motivation to improve her overall health and get back in shape helped her stick with it, even though that involved spending lots of time in the kitchen. “Everything needs to be homemade,” she notes. Lauren liked the idea of detoxing both her mental and physical health with this plan, but in the end found some requirements—like eliminating caffeine, alcohol, gluten, dairy and sugar —too restrictive. “I am a firm believer that moderation is key,” she says.
Biggest Hurdle: The expense of the supplements
Simplest Challenge: Prepping the lunch salads