Today this happened:
Yep. Jelly Bean started preschool! After 12 years of waiting for the day when I’d have a consistent block of time to myself you’d think that I’d be thrilled. And I am. I’m so thrilled I sobbed in my car for 20 minutes after she trotted blithely into her classroom with nary a backward glance. Truly I did not expect to feel this way. It’s like the end of an era. I’m no longer a “young mother” in the baby years – a fact driven home to me as I chatted with a new mom whose oldest is the same age as my youngest when she said, “It’s so nice to connect with other young moms [long pause] … and you!” Then she added that she likes me because I remind her of her mom. Which, for the record, I am totally not old enough to be. I would have had to birth her at age 9 and as all long-time readers of this blog know (thanks to my chronic oversharing) I did not begin menstruating until 16. So take that young-but-bad-at-math mom! Oy.
The only thing that makes me feel better is that a lady at the gym asked me what year of college I’m in. I chalk it up to my dirty Zumba dancing – moms don’t usually twerk. (Thank you Turbo Jennie for teaching me the art of the booty bounce! It’s the gift that just keeps on giving. Or scandalizing. Whatevs.)
Anyhow, my boys went back to school yesterday and with the new schedules and needy kids my posting queue is piling up fast! Each of these darling readers sent me a question that I fully intended to answer in its own post but because of time constraints I’m just going to have to go with a quick-n-dirty roundup post. Because a quickie answer is always better than nothing? (I’m seriously hoping you guys will chime in and fill in the gaps in my answers in the comments!)
“Ok, I saw a groupon for laser lipo, 6 sessions for 500.00. I read your article in Shape and just wondered if you still felt it was worth it. I’m 55 5′ 6″ 135 lbs. I’m on treadmill 3x week, take stairs at work and eat healthy. I have always been what people would describe “skinny”. Most adult life a size 4-6, but lately size 6 sometimes 8. I seem to be gaining weight by just looking at food! HELP.” – Reader J
I’m not sure if I blogged about it here but I wrote about “laser lipo” for Shape and at the time I wasn’t sure if it was helpful but was cautiously optimistic, mostly based on all the fun science behind it. Now, a year later, I will say I don’t think it’s worth the money. While lots of people report inches and fat lost, what they don’t normally tell you about is the diet that you are supposed to adhere to during the laser treatment period – it’s very low carb and low calorie with lots of water to “flush out the toxins” being released by the lasers when they break up your fat cells. In my experience any inches lost are mostly a product of the diet. The whole point of the laser is to target “problem areas” but I don’t know that it works – or if it does, it’s very subtle. Also, it’s worth noting that your weight is totally healthy for you and it’s quite normal to gain a little extra weight as we age. Indeed it can be protective with post-menopausal women who weigh a little more outliving and having less incidence of disease than those who weigh less. I vote you save your money and just enjoy your healthy self:) Although I so totally empathize with feeling helpless and frustrated by unexplained weight gain! Perhaps we can work on getting past this together?
“Hi I enjoyed reading your post about constipation… my gf has super issues with constipation and digestion altogether.. I have learned so much about digestion its not even funny. I am pretty good at finding solutions to my own problems and even hers. Anyway, I have pretty much concluded that her long term use of antacids vs pepto bismal (every day before school when she was younger) and antibiotic use plus birth control at at an early age (to control heavy periods) has wiped out her good bacteria and intestinal flora. This is where a healthy diet and probiotics come in….I’ll never be able to convince her to ferment foods or even buy them probably because of the expense and how they are not easily obtained …what I can do however is have her try a supplement or that white powder that you mentioned in your post (the one you take daily I believe). I am also wondering about acidopholus and if i have her try some probiotics I understand that it should probably be a gradual thing….is there any advice or brands you can disclose to help me help her with her situation….thank you so much in advance. And I really enjoyed your blog will subscribe to your feed .” – Reader Other J
Hi! I enjoyed writing my post about constipation so thank you for enduring my 200 euphemisms for fecal matter! (I’m such a 12-year-old boy sometimes.) As for your girlfriend, I’m not sure what her issue is and it’s impossible to diagnose over the Internet (especially since I’m not a doctor and all that). My first question would be to ask if she’s tried a low-fiber diet yet. Yes, LOW fiber. Or even no fiber. Has she tried taking out gluten? It sounds counterintuitive but it’s helped regulate a lot of people with pernicious constipation. My second question is to why you think fermenting food is either difficult or expensive? In my experience, making yogurt, kefir, saurkraut and sour cream has been very cheap and so easy that not even I can screw it up. For instance, yogurt only has one ingredient: milk! You just add a bit of the old yogurt to the new batch and let it sit over night. It doesn’t get any cheaper or easier! It’s definitely cheaper than buying a supplement.
As for a probiotic, I currently take a full-spectrum capsule (just the generic brand from the store) which I will either swallow or break open and sprinkle on my food. I don’t take it every day but rather just when I feel like I need it. I’ve tried cheap brands and expensive ones and the only time it’s made any difference at all was when my baby was fighting off c-diff (a serious intestinal infection that does not respond to antibiotics) and the probiotic powder we used was specially formulated for his case. I love the stuff. Just try it. If it helps you should know pretty quickly, if it doesn’t, well, then you know! And if your gf’s symptoms persist, definitely get her to a doctor!
Adding Healthy Fats
“I’m sorry to bother you with something silly but I couldn’t find the entry I was looking for. I think it’s one where you told people what you’re eating now, and I remember you talking about eating fat. I agree that we need fat and have been scrutinizing my go-to foods. I’m eating eggs more regularly, and having butter on my toast, and switched from light to regular string cheese. Under the microscope right now: my go-to work lunch. I keep a bag of 3-ounce portions of cooked chicken breast in my freezer at work along with a bag of frozen veggies (usually broccoli) and my go-to lunch is chicken, broccoli, and triscuits (and usually a small piece or two of chocolate). It’s boring but yummy and economical and although I’ve been thinking about intuitive eating, at lunch I’m usually reading facebook or something and so having something fixed and measured just works for me right now. But it struck me yesterday that this is pretty darn low in fat and might not be the best choice from a lasting satiety standpoint. And I remembered your post about eating fat but couldn’t find it. Could you share the link? ” – Reader S
First, know this: You are never a bother! I love getting e-mails from you guys. These connections with people and getting to be a tiny part of your lives – It is what makes all this worth doing!! Also, I love talking about fat. Looove it! The post you are referencing, about what I eat in a day can be found here. (And definitely read this one too about how I got over my fear of fat!) And while I’m no dietitian it does seem like reading through your go-to lunch that you could use a bit more fat! Not only will it keep you fuller longer but it will help you have better skin, better sleep, better sex and more lustrous hair! Who wouldn’t want all that awesome?
My favorite way to add fat these days is with coconut oil. (Pure, virgin, cold pressed.) You could try cooking your chicken in it with a few spices. Another option would be to add some grass-fed butter or ghee to your broccoli. The most convenient way of course is to grab a handful of nuts. There is a lot of debate about which nut is “best” but I say just go with a variety and cover all your bases. Another option is to swap out the processed Triscuits (unless you really love them!) for air-popped popcorn covered in coconut oil and sea salt (or chile and lime!). Or try whipping up some guacamole by mashing an avocado and tomato together with some salt and lemon and dipping your Triscuits in that. My last thought is to warn you to be careful with food ruts even if they’re “healthy”. Sometimes it feels “safer” to just stick with what we know but that can keep you from getting all the nutrients your body needs. So kudos to you for being willing to expand your food horizons!
Delish Spice Combos
“I just had jaw surgery and while I have some good recipes for soft foods like lentils and soups, I need some flavor inspiration! What are your favorite ways to spice things up?” – Reader C
First, I hope you’re recovering well from your surgery! As for flavors, I consider myself very adventurous with food yet when I went to my recipes to give you some ideas I realized that while I do eat lots of weird flavors I do reuse the same few flavor combos over and over again! So I’m hoping to get some new ideas to try too! But in the meantime, here are some of my faves:
- Carmelized basalmic vinegar with truffle oil (it’s not as expensive as you think!)
- Flavored olive oils (Currently I have truffle, basil, garlic and chili.)
- Citrus. I’m still a huge fan of the True Lemon line of crystallized lime, lemon, orange and grapefruit. I use them on everything from fish to popcorn to smoothies.
- Indian. I love anything spicy like Tandoori and Garam Masala. Right now my favorite popcorn is hot tandoori with True Grapefruit crystals.
- Italian. It’s cliche but done right it’s amazing. Basil, oregano, tarragon, sage, pepper – I have a fab pre-mixed blend I got from Costco and it makes roasts taste gourmet.
- Plain yogurt. Its tangy-ness makes a delicious base for all kinds of dips, sauces and flavoring. Try making your own tzatziki sauce by added chopped cucumber and fresh mint.
How to Thicken Thin Hair (part II)
“Today my question for you is the hair loss issue. I was going to ask you if you have had any success with any products? I have been using Nioxin and Biotin for a month now with no noticeable change. Have you heard of Bosely products? My local Ulta store sells some (much cheaper I might add) but I have never heard human feedback. From people I know. Blah, Never thought I’d be dealing with hair loss at 34 years old! ” – Reader L
Me either, L! Me either… sigh. You can read my original post about my thinning hair here, in which I mentioned that I’ve been using Nioxin with some good results. Well thanks to a tip from one of you in the comments, I’ve switched to the generic Target version of Neutrogena T-Gel. Want to know what the T stands for? TAR. The active ingredient is tar. And it smells like it. Woof. But for whatever reason apparently tar helps with a host of scalp ills, ameliorating dandruff, psoriasis and even thinning hair. And I actually think it’s working! Similar to the Nioxin, I don’t think it’s thickening my actual hair but rather helping my hair fall out less. It’s subtle. And it’s waaaay cheaper than other products. I think my bottle cost me $4? Unfortunately I haven’t tried the Bosely products so I can’t speak to those but perhaps someone else has?
Intuitive Eating: You Guys are the BEST
Last note, if any of you are thinking of trying IE, frustrated with IE or even having great success with IE, I’d highly encourage you to read the comments on my post about “failing” at eating intuitively. Yet again your kind, compassionate and SMART answers were way better than what I wrote and I’ve been alternately smiling, laughing, nodding and even tearing up a bit as I read them. You guys are a wealth of info and are seriously the nicest people on the Internet. Truly, go read those comments – you’ll be glad you did!
I’d like to conclude by paraphrasing Alex Laycock’s comment: “It’s not the size of the person, it’s the size of life that matters!” So well said. Thank you.
Help a Reader (Or 5!) Out?
Thanks for sticking with me through this Q & A and helping me catch up on my e-mail! I’d be eternally grateful if any of you have more insight/resources/experiences that you could share with the above letter writers! In the meantime, I’m going to go kiss Jelly Bean’s sweaty, sleeping head one more time:)