Archive for the 'Food' Category

Love is What I Got.

stop-hating-your-bodyToday’s the day! I’m back to my pre-baby weight (again) and done “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” to quote Albert Einstein. 

Why is this time different? For starters, I’ve taken a radical* approach:

I’m self-motivating with love. By being kind to myself. By not beating myself up. For the first time EVER. 

I was motivated by negative feelings during my life on a diet. Being motivated by ill feelings I had for myself and my predicament lead to decades of yo-yo dieting. Hating your body as a motivation is very short-term. What’s more, when you’re fueled by negativity, you are more likely to self sabotage and beat yourself up when you have a “bad” day. You never feel worthy. It’s no wonder the weight always returns. The workouts wane. The cycle continues.

Then I gave love a try.

And I got real. I convinced myself I was worth loving at any weight, any health, any age. I realized getting real and finding love was the ONLY way I was going to endure yet another attempt at getting healthy. Big picture? Love is the only thing that will make my goals worth maintaining into the future. Because if you reach a goal by constantly being vengeful and hateful toward yourself, what are you left with? What is going to motivate you to maintain your goals? More berating? Exactly. So love it is.

And I embraced the fact that I’m a proud owner of a body that:

-Will never look like something out of a newsstand magazine without major surgery (or Photoshop!). And made total peace with that. Studies have repeatedly shown that plastic surgery does not make people happier overall, anyway, so F that noise. And besides, as one of our generation’s greatest wordsmith once said, “silicone parts are made for toys.” 

-Has borne two beautiful, healthy children, with a body to prove it, and I’m grateful. And damn, I have some incredible kids.

-That just is what it is because, genes. And the aging process. And gravity. That’s not some stark reality, that’s a gift – living is. Not to mention, my body’s inherent characteristics are not flaws. Besides, they have nothing to do with my actual character. I choose to love this body and use this love to motivate me to improve it in realistic, healthy ways. I am GOING TO BE HERE FOR A LONG TIME, YO!

So that’s it. Love. When I’m tempted to dig into myself, I just remember that nothing I can personally do will ever, ever, ever change my DNA and that what I’m dealing with is a 36-year-old, living body that’s been through a lot and will get through a lot more to come – and that’s amazing. There is no shame in that. Hell, that’s worth celebrating. I carry around the proof of life – a good life full of love, even at my darkest times – and that motivates me every day now.

That said, this whole loving-your-body thing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. All that self-love in the world is in vain if there are haters taking us down – think about that. It’s no accident that I’m powered by love. I surround myself with positive people and things by design. If you are constantly bombarded by things that trigger negative feelings about your body – be it from a partner, family member or friend, even (especially?) the media –  you will be up for an additional challenge to achieving your goals. Plus, that’s kind of crappy – jerks trolling your life, bringing you down, you know? So in addition to loving yourself first, if you have haters in your life, poof, be gone!  I mean, come on. F those haters.

Till the next goal!

*Loving oneself should not be radical, but because we’re socialized to hate our bodies and pick on others’ bodies, particularly women, I’m calling for a radical change in the body-talk, body-relationship narrative. Won’t you join me?

 

And now, some relevant motivational quotes from the web! 

Love-Your-Body loveyourbody quotes-body-01-bloom-600x411 love-your-body-17 LovingYourBody1 PLPT Love Note 122112 Love-your-body-quote Quotation-Harry-Papas-life-good-love-self-diet-understanding-inspirational-Meetville-Quotes-218569 b6cd86f3aff37e94285420acc3d8e382 stop-hating-your-body

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Nogurt.

213406_7960Ollie and I went grocery shopping the other day. Just him and me. I told him he could pick out some things. Not “treats” for being good or just because – I wanted him to be part of the process of finding food for the week.

He wanted yogurt. I got him Dannon Oikos, one strawberry pack, one blueberry pack, which have about the fewest sugars of all the options I found (holler at me if you know of a lower one that does not use artificial sweeteners). He’s had a cup with every meal since we got them. He is a fiend. He scrapes the container for the very last bit. You know the milk mustache? I’ve been wiping off a yogurt ‘stach since yesterday. Immediate reaction: This brings my child so much joy and I’m a total jerk for not regularly buying yogurt. It’s JUST YOGURT.

Well, there is a pretty good reason.

I take issue with the marketing of yogurt as a healthy, wholesome  low-fat snack packed with fruit, calcium and probiotics. Talk about a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Your average fruit yogurt has as much if not more sugar in it than a candy bar (I’m talking 30+ grams of sugar – yikes!). I wouldn’t give my kids candy as a midday snack or a side to a meal.  That’s basically what we’re talking about.

Not trying to make yogurt out to be a sort of pariah of the food pyramid. Like candy or ice cream, it’s fine as a once-in-awhile treat or snack. Personally, I buy plain Greek yogurt and use it as a sour cream sub. It is great in dips, on tacos, etc. You can also make your own flavors using plain yogurt and adding in  fresh fruit and spices, and have control over the amount of sweeteners you use.

There is something novel (not to mention convenient), I suppose, about a single-serve, ready-to-eat cup of yogurt, and that’s why it’s so popular – and that’s why my son is obsessed with it. I just hope people will heed  the facts. As for me, for  30+ sugars, I will take a Snickers bar, please.

Hello. My Name is Erica B. and I am a Happy Suburbanite

This, from Slightly Insulting Chicago Posters, is designed to be funny-offensive. I can take a joke. But allow me to set the record straight about my very much alive hopes, dreams and aspirations as a suburbanite.

The city vs. the suburbs? It’s not that simple. It’s not us against them.

I didn’t leave Chicago for the suburbs because I fell out of love with it. Or because I failed. Or it failed me. Nothing could be further from the truth. Chicago was everything to me.

It’s an unpopular opinion that the suburbs are as adventurous as the big city. You can’t possibly maintain your dignity, passion and integrity out there. You can’t possibly still consider that living.

Newsflash: I’ve lived here for four years (and grew up in one) and I AM FAR FROM DEAD. I love the suburbs.

I still keep up with new music. I still read (we have libraries, too!). I write. I create. I discover new restaurants and eat good food with friends. I attend art shows and farmers markets, and shop at little downtown stores. I visit farms, orchards, museums, parks and enjoy tons of recreation. At home, I even have room for my own real garden! It’s pretty amazeballs. And contrary to what my facebook posts might relate, my new adventures are not all about my kids (though, yeah, some of the best involve them). Oh, and one final revelation: I can visit the city whenever I please.

It’s just common sense. You don’t die when you move. You don’t give up when you have a family. It doesn’t work that way. Adventurous people find adventure. Motivated people don’t care if something doesn’t already exist for them, they can always make it themselves. Creative people don’t need a special place to build, write or dream. They just do it. They rely on their imagination and will, not their coordinates.

So if you’ve transplanted form the city to the burbs or country for family, work, change of pace, cost of living, whatever – don’t EVER feel bad about it. Never feel like a sellout. Never feel ashamed or embarrassed or boring (unless you are boring). Don’t care so much about what’s going on in the city or what you’re missing out on. You have every opportunity to enjoy your life with the people you love wherever you are right now.

Bye, Bye Baby Weight

When I first started this blog, I hadn’t zeroed in on children’s music quite yet. I was a longtime writer and new mom just looking for an outlet to discuss, well, everything under the sun (and “son,” hehe). I posted here and there about meal planning, baby food and family nutrition. Oh yeah, and a little lamenting about my struggle to lose my baby weight.

It wasn’t until last August that my husband and I initiated a lifestyle that matched the values I discussed so much back then. I’m happy to say six months to almost the day, I am 40 pounds lighter. The time breezed by, but I learned so much (and am excited about what I have yet to discover). The loss was slow and steady, so I’ve cherished every pound that’s vanished, every new notch on my belt and every minute I can run on the treadmill. Running. I know. Crazy!

We’re cooking a lot of really amazing dishes. The fridge is full of fresh produce to the point that I broke my vegetable drawer the other day (oops!). Cocoa roast almonds take up the cupboard space where boxes of Raisinettes used to reside (though they never lasted very long). I have something called flaxseed meal in my baking supplies now and it rocks my world. The highlight of my weekend was using it to make a “muffin in a minute” and it’s a top breakfast request from Ollie.

I’m sure it’s suspicious – annoying, even – when people ask me how hard it was and about all the sacrifices I’ve had to make, when I tell them with honesty that after the initial week of junk food detox, it’s been incredibly easy and actually very exciting to cook with new foods and recipes. I have not had a sugar crash in forever. I don’t get headaches. I am not winded walking up stairs. I can run with (and after) my child with ease. I have not been either ravenously hungry or sickeningly full in six months. I’ve found healthy ways to cope with the bad days and there are WAY fewer bad days now. I’d be lying if I said it was difficult.

Phew! Thank you for letting me get that off my chest. Maybe it will mean another lost pound! 🙂

OK, back to rockin’ out!

Pirate PARRRty For My Little Matey!

It’s a pirate theme for Ollie’s 3rd birthday! Once again, Auntie Coco will be baking the custom cake – can’t wait! Here are a few things we’ve stocked up on …

Top row: Pirate garland/flags, booty chest goodie box and action figures (temp tattoos, eye patches, etc.) for goodie box.

Second row: Buried treasure cake with lots of booty, pirate hats (and accessories) and foam swords.

Third row: Pop-Up Pirate game (by Tomy); skull sweater from Target and lots of doubloons!

A Few of My Favorite (Preggo) Things

Another design-challenged, but well-intentioned collage by yours truly.

My sister-in-law and cousin are both expecting in May and it got me thinking about simple – and sometimes strange, sometimes obvious – life savers from when I was pregnant (and some things I still swear by):

Crack creams – I thought I knew how to soothe dry, cracked, itchy skin till I was 8 months pregnant during a brutal Chicago winter. Palmer’s Soothing Oil is the Cadillac of dry skin solutions. But if you can’t deal with basically spraying Pam on your body (albeit nice-smelling Pam), try Johnson’s Creamy Baby Oil (I like Shea & Cocoa Butter). These are both still part of my daily routine in the winter.

OMG Shoes – I love my Chuck Taylors, but they became too narrow for my bloated feet. Men’s Converse One Star sneakers are a little wider than women’s and cheaper than Chucks, but still say “See, I can hang at the punk show! Um, but there’ll be some seating, right?” They sell them as slip-ons or with Velcro straps, too, for when you’re done with shoelaces! For work, I loved Sketchers mary janes w/the stretchy elastic strap – kind of like these.

OMG Boobs – Nips love lanolin – plus it’s natural and safe for breast-fed babies, even if with its consistency, color and stank, it might as well be earwax. I still use it on my cuticles.

Pro Nails – I think even if you have a partner who gives regular foot rubs and massages (god bless ’em), go out and get all pretty and pampered when you’re preggo. You deserve an occasional mani/pedi and salon or spa day.

Comfort Food – We all have our oddball cravings and stockpiles of must-have foods. Have at it. Mine were Cheez-Its and Jamba Juice. I was a regular of the Ogilvie train station’s JJ – the guy at the counter literally saw me coming from a mile away and had those oranges in the blender. I’m the reason JJ smoothies are now offered in your grocer’s freezer (and why my son will never be Vitamin C deficient).

Blue Jean Baby Queen – We are all guilty of it – let’s squeeze into our regular jeans till we are busting at the seams because we are PROUD, damn it! (At least the first time around.) I say just buy the jeans with the big elastic band already. They get the job done and are cute where they need to be cute and comfy where they need to be comfy.

Big ‘n’ Thrifty – I did not buy a lot of new maternity clothes because they seem overpriced, even at the big boxes. Instead, I shopped the plus-size and maternity sales racks with the exception of some outfits for a few special occasions.

Get Happy – Happy mom = happy baby. I  mean, we should all strive for happiness anyway, but particularly when you’re carrying your unborn baby, you should be more sunshine and less rain, even on cloudy days. For me it was about surrounding myself with things that brought me joy – enjoying foods that made me happy, relaxing with books and TV that made me laugh, getting the house ready for the baby, and going out and trying to do as much as I could when I felt up to it. And I think that’s at least partially why I have a cheerful son.

Chicago Rock City: Zines, Music + More

Plan your visit to the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago for a day of zine/book/record shopping, cultural adventures and good grub! Make sure the following destinations are on your list:

Reckless Records – Get lost browsing new and used records in this store reminiscent of the one in “High Fidelity,” which was, in fact, filmed down the street. Consider it indie cred if you’re treated mildly rude by the elitist clerks. Score some free wall art in the gig poster bin and treat the kids to a session of silly fun in the photo booth.

Quimby’s Bookstore (photo) – Hey, they have a play area now featuring finger puppets and wind-up toys (also for sale)! Peep comics, art books, zines galore and curiosities. Word to the wise – pocket the cell phone or risk public shaming.

Myopic Books – A book-lover’s haven, Myopic has three floors of used books – 80,000 total including everything from pop-up books to uber-special interest reads. No photos, please.

826CHI – Drop into The Boring Store (shhh! It’s really a spy store!) for inspector-y gadgets and books authored by 826 tutoring center students (proceeds help fund the nonprofit).

Hungry? Sue me, but I have no problem suggesting a New York-style pizza in Chicago. Get a slice for the right price at Santullo’s Eatery, a fast and yummy family-friendly pizzeria. Watch dough get hand-tossed right at the counter (free entertainment)!

Dessert is always in order after a long day strolling up and down city blocks! Treat your cookie monster to a sweet from Artemio Bakery, an old school panadería without pretension in, let’s face it, an otherwise hipster mecca.


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