5 Foods to Break Up With in 2014

This is a guest post from Lauren Slayton, founder of Foodtrainers, and a friend of mine for the last 7 years.  Lauren’s new book, Little Book of Thin, just came out in time for your New Year’s Resolutions, and is chock full of simple, easy to follow advice on eating better and making healthier – but satisfying – choices. I’m thrilled to feature this post from Lauren with this great advice to follow for your whole family.

little book of thin cover

Many of my clients are moms. I’ll sit down with them for initial sessions and hear “I have one soda a day” or “I have Splenda in my coffee”. When I ask if they allow their children to have Sprite or sugar substitutes without fail they’ll say, “of course not our house is totally organic” or  “never!”. Interesting.

I don’t overwhelm clients with “No’s” and I purposely opened Little Book of Thin with Ten Steps to Svelte or 10 tips that are proactive. However, with certain foods firm rules are easier to follow and if you absolutely want to feel your best. Here are the foods you should absolutely break up with, and keep out of your home, in 2014 to start off on a much healthier path.

  1. No Soda:  Ok let’s get this one out of the way since I already mentioned it. You probably know it’s unhealthy but did you know soda (diet included) promotes weight gain, not loss? Diet soda drinkers have higher levels of abdominal fat too
  2. No Skim Dairy:  This one is perhaps a little more surprising. Skim milk doesn’t help you lose weight. One study with 20,000 women over 9 years found that those who increased skim dairy gained 10 percent. Those who increased whole milk consumption lost 9% on average. Fat in milk helps assimilate Vitamin D, which is crucial for our bones and also appetite control.
  3. No Fro Yo:  Fro yo on the surface seems great. Imagine a life where you can have dessert and lose weight until you realize you’re not losing weight. At most yogurt shops the portions are huge, the toppings too tempting and the ingredients? Read them and let me know what you think.
  4. No Bottled Salad Dressing:  I’m guessing you wouldn’t put two to three teaspoons of sugar on a salad not to mention salt. If you’re going to the trouble of getting or bringing a salad for your lunch make your own dressing with olive or walnut oil, apple cider vinegar, lemons or limes. We have a Thin-I-Gette dressing in LBT that uses miso, it’s really delicious.
  5. No Gum:  Gum makes you gassy. Gum contains multiple artificial sweeteners, preservatives and food dyes. Sweet begets sweet too and the more sweet (real or fake) you eat the more you crave. Plus, gum chewing doesn’t look nice.

If you’re rolling your eyes thinking “are we supposed to be perfect all the time”? Not at all. I’m not typing this while nibbling on arugula but I’m in favor of planning. A well-planned wholesome dessert here and there (ok once a week) will leave you so much better off than having these “No” items often or daily.  If something on this list makes a regular appearance, perhaps it’s time to break up. Just hum Tom Petty “I’ll probably feel a whole lot better when you’re gone.”

I wish you a healthy, happy and “thin” New Year.

Tiger Eyes the Movie: Meeting Judy Blume, again, 30 years later

tiger eyes movie poster

Judy Blume is easily the first author I remember LOVING.  I was probably around seven when I read my first Judy Blume book. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and quickly headed to Barnes and Noble for more.  I had to read EVERYTHING she wrote.  Like most girls of my generation (that would be X) Judy Blume helped define our childhood and adolescence.

Deenie, Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, Blubber and of course, Forever.  These books taught you something about being a girl – what might happen, what may have happened, what you hope didn’t happen – all of it perfectly written in exactly the right voice.

When I was 10 I waited for two hours with one of my best friends at the original Barnes and Noble in Manhattan to meet Judy Blume and get the first copy of Tiger Eyes.  That autographed copy of Tiger Eyes is one of the very few books that has moved with me from home to home – surviving over 30 years and 5 moves.  Like many of Judy’s (she told me to call her that!) books Tiger Eyes is about a strong, young girl named Davey on the verge of womanhood.  In Tiger Eyes she is also displaced, confused, and recovering from the sudden, violent death of her father.  It’s a much more mature book – not quite Forever, but definitely more hardened and sad than Margaret.

The film is very loyal to book,  beautifully shot and the lead actress, Willa Holland, is extraordinary.  I highly recommend it not just for Gen X women who grew up with Judy Blume, but also for older tween and teen girls.  It’s amazing to see how much Twilight and The Hunger Games follow in the footsteps of the Judy Blume tradition of smart, capable – slightly wounded, girls like Davey in Tiger Eyes.  It’s not action packed or fully of vampires and love triangles, but it has at its core those paradoxical feelings of adolescent sadness/joy, fear/courage, ignorance/wisdom that universally resonate at that age – particularly with girls.

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of attending a screening of the new film version of Tiger Eyes – and Judy Blume was there to take questions and sign books!

judy blume and lawrence blume

I was thrilled to dig out my copy of  Tiger Eyes from 1982.  Judy was shocked and touched to see her autograph from way back then  – she called over everyone to see it, and then signed the book anew here in 2013.

It was an awesome moment.  And I can tell you that there were many, many women in attendance that day who brought their original copies of Forever, Tiger Eyes and the other faves – tattered, battered and well-loved – for Judy to sign as well.

You can check out the main Tiger Eyes page to see if the film is coming to a theater near you, but it is also On Demand, and online on the usual outlets.

Lean In, Lean Out: Sheryl Sandberg and Doing the Feminist Hokey Pokey

Lean In book cover

Last week I ordered Sheryl Sandberg‘s book, Lean In.  It wasn’t something I initially thought I would read since my reading time is limited and I really hate to waste it on these kinds of self-helpy memoir books.  But, after two weeks of endless posts, articles, news segments and Facebook updates from people I respected – and some I didn’t – I felt like I couldn’t really participate in a conversation about the Lean In debate without having read the book.

Though that doesn’t seem to have stopped most people.

And now, after reading about half of the book, it has become very clear that most people are taking sides and reposting articles they “agree” with even though they have no clue what is actually in the book.

First, I have only read half the book because I stopped.  I was bored.  Really, really bored.  If you have been paying attention to women’s issues, work/life balance, sexism, gender issues in education, took a women’s history class – anything! – then you will already know the issues laid out in Lean In.  And guess what, despite all the criticism being levied at Sheryl Sandberg for being elitist, having help, etc – she mentions all of it, almost apologizes for it – over and over again.  I don’t understand the anger about this.  She is the COO of one of the most successful technology companies of our time – she has help!  She has a husband who sees himself as a 50/50 partner.  SHOCKER.

And yes she went to Harvard.  Was she a legacy whose father bought her way in?  No, that would be true of some of our past U.S. Presidents, but she got in on merit.  She had a mentor – Larry Summers.  Can you imagine anything worse than a woman who was seen as hard-working and smart enough as to be chosen as a worthy mentee for Larry Summers?  For some people, I guess not.  Everyone I know who went to Harvard ended up with incredible access to high level connections in all areas – finance, the arts, medicine, etc. That is what makes Harvard, Harvard.  My good friend had Spike Lee as his screenwriting teacher – and then as his first boss.  He is now a major TV producer, writer and series creator.  He is crazy smart and talented.  He also had an incredible mentor.  Don’t like it?  Take it up with Harvard.

I have to be honest.  As the co-founder of a tech start-up I was hoping for real nitty-gritty business advice.  I suppose other women are reading this for the miracle solution to work/life balance.  One piece I read in Slate asked Sheryl Sandberg to be more specific about how she does it – how much her husband really helps, nannies – details!   I don’t need to see her monthly calendar to understand it must be crazy complicated, involve nannies, a personal assistant, her husband and more.  I don’t think anyone asked Bill Gates to see his schedule of how he did it, or Jack Welch, or any male CEO.  And trust me, their wives weren’t doing it all.

There is one way that I think Sheryl Sandberg has been “lucky.”  She is passionate about what she does, where she works and what she wants to do.  This week’s cover story in New York Magazine is all about feminist women Leaning Out.  This is nothing new either.  Some women don’t want to work 80 hours a week, travel non-stop, and devote themselves to a career.  They’d rather be home with their kids, especially early on, and are pretty okay knowing that they may not achieve their initial vision of corporate success.  I had one good friend who ran an equities division of a large investment bank before her daughter was born, and then for the first 3 years of her daughter’s life.  You don’t get more testosterone filled than equities trading.  Then one day when she was running out the door in the morning at 7am her daughter wrapped herself around my friend’s leg wailing and begging her not to go. The way she tells it, she peeled her daughter off of her leg and basically yelled at her out of frustration.  On the subway she felt terrible and had a moment  – an AHA moment I guess Oprah would call it – that her daughter just desperately wanted to be with her, and that she made her daughter feel bad about it.  She was in a position financially to quit her job – and she did.  And she didn’t want to have to apologize for it. She leaned in, then she jumped out.

Someday she may choose to lean back in.

That’s what many well-educated women are doing.  A hokey-pokey of leaning in, then leaning out, then jumping to the right, to the left, maybe falling on our asses, and leaning in again.

I will be giving Lean In to my ten year-old daughters to read.  To me it was all old hat and cliché.  I had my Lean In moments; particularly in college fighting it out as a film major when only 20% of students were female and there were only 2 female professors in the whole department (now the head of the department is a woman.)  I have no problem leaning in – running a company I have no choice but to lean in and sometimes use a megaphone.  But, I already see some of the doubt in my girls.

In preparation for parent teacher conferences one of my daughters had to do a self-evaluation and she wrote that one of the things she had to work on was not calling out.  During the conference her teacher told us that she never called out and wasn’t sure why my daughter wrote that.  Her teacher said she raises her hand, contributes great ideas and is always enthusiastic.  But somehow my daughter has started to feel bad that maybe she talks too much in class.  She just came up with this on her own.  As middle school approaches the last thing I want my daughter to do is start to hang back.

So, for that reason I’m all for leaning in, and Sheryl Sandberg, and Marissa Mayer and Hillary Clinton, and every other high-powered public woman who has to not just lean in but also bear the angry stares of millions of judgemental eyes.  And I hope my girls grab the hands of a couple more girls and pull them into the circle too.  That way their generation of young women can learn to do the dance together.

Tech Mom Bloggers Take On CE Week

The CEA Line Shows hit NYC last week and this year mom bloggers had their own day at the show sponsored by Techlicious.  It seemed like the whole city was taken over by CE Week with events every night and meetings every day.  But the highlight for me was speaking on a panel with 2 of my Blogging Angels co-hosts, Nancy Friedman and Amy Oztan.  Our 4th Angel, Heidi Leder was busy organizing the event and making sure it all went as planned.

Our panel, moderated by Suzanne Kantra, Co-founder and Editor in Chief of Techlicious, was entitled How to Work With Mom Bloggers.  I was thrilled to see such a large crowd and we had a jam packed 1/2 hour of giving the low down on how to pitch, work and follow through with mom bloggers, and how not to.   It got some great press and hopefully a lot of PR reps and business owners walked out with real, practical information – at the very least they should know that they’ll have to pay for any real sort of campaign and start an email with “Dear Mommy Blogger.”

We got some great press coverage of the event which you can see here in Dealerscope and CEA Digital Dialogue.

We spent the day at the Techlicious events – from Suzanne’s great presentation on the best audio and video tools for bloggers.  (I need to check out the iRig microphone first hand and the Zoom Q3HD video camera) to a very informative and truthful discussion with Chad Latz of Cohn & Wolfe about how they are approaching the mom influencer community.  Then we hit the floor to see all the latest gadgets and tech products.  Nothing terribly new to report since most of these products we saw at CES, now some of them have come to fruition.  The Toshiba Thrive Tablet was a highlight since it’s got loads of connectivity options like an HDMI, USB and mini USB ports as well as SD card slot.

But otherwise the product that elicited the most oohs and cameras flashing was the iGuy from Speck Products.  There’s something about personifying your tech that is always ridiculously appealing.  Don’t know what I’m talking about?  Check out this video all about the iGuy…

Wordless Wednesday Literary Flash Back

I love this list of the Top 10 Fiction and Non-Fiction books from the week I was born.  Courtesy of BibliOz.com.  Many of these were on my parents’ bookshelf growing up, which you can read all about in my post The Serendipty of My Family’s Library.

A (Conference) Room of One’s Own

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about girls – the way they socialize, the way they learn, the way they are taught and the way they are perceived.  We’ve been looking at sleep-away camps for my daughters over the last couple of months and the one thing both of them requested is an all girls camp.  This never would’ve occurred to me just a few years ago when they were 5 and played equally with boys and girls, but now that they’re 8 I can see how a summer of girl power would be just the right thing.  Watching the camp DVDs and reading the literature has made me realize that there is something special, something that deserves to be nurtured in a single-sex environment, something freeing about just being at a place that celebrates being female – and it applies to grown women and women’s conferences as well.

This past month two major women’s blogger conferences announced that their next conference would include male bloggers and stop being “mom” focused and become “parent” focused.  Type-A Mom will change its name to Type-A Parent – they already added a dad track this past year, and Mom 2.0, one of the largest momblogging conferences is now looking to focus on “innovation”  meaning bringing in men to speak and attend.  How that is innovative I’m not sure.  This past August many dad bloggers crashed BlogHer to mingle with the brands and attend the parties, which many female bloggers, myself included, felt was mildly annoying in some cases to outright rude and schnorr-y in others.  Here is a movement built by women, conferences created for women by women, with sponsors and companies finally recognizing the power of those women – and yet we are still so damn accommodating that we smile and welcome the men into the scene because hey we’re all in this together right?  Wrong.

According to Technorati’s 2010 State of the Blogosphere only 1/3 of bloggers are women, in some areas this is vastly smaller like science, technology and politics – and few women bloggers make it on any major media’s Top 25 or 100 blogger lists unless it’s a specific list for mombloggers.  So why then are we so eager to cede the one space we have carved out for women when we should be expanding it to push more women into the limelight and up the rungs of the general blogging ladder rather than cannibalizing our own space?  This has nothing to do with not liking dad bloggers in general. There are dad bloggers I think are great and read regularly.  When I’m at PR events or blogging conferences that are meant for everyone I love seeing the male bloggers and writers I know and respect.  But these conferences  – these women centered conferences – they were created for a reason and that reason has not disappeared:  women’s voices are still marginalized.

I’ve been thinking about this so much lately that I reread Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineas. Though she talks about women and fiction the same ideas apply to all writing and especially to blogging since having a blog/voice of one’s own has never been easier.  But, the same stereotypical impulses survive.  Women bloggers who have children are categorized as “mom” bloggers when in fact, according to that Technorati survey, only 13% of “mombloggers” write about parenting.  The fact that they still label them “mom” bloggers probably best illustrates my point.

So yes, invite everyone to your Blog World Expo and Web 2.0, invite a man to speak at BlogHer if he’s the best person for the job, but keep the conferences for women.  To find their voices, share their stories, lift each other up, make a fool of themselves singing at the tops of their lungs or cheering when they finish the high ropes course (oh wait, that’s the camp DVD I just watched – or maybe not…)  Hopefully you get my point.  There’s nothing wrong with saying these 3 days, they’re for women only, and while we love you guys too this is about something else.  We don’t need to apologize or explain.  We should just be proud of what women have created and think about how much more work needs to be done by and for women.  I for one can’t wait to see my daughters grow up and thrive in dynamic real and virtual rooms of their own, without making excuses for why the signs on the doors say “no boys allowed.”

Yahoo! Motherboard Summit – Power to the Moms!

I just got back from Palo Alto and a whirlwind two days spent at the outrageously gorgeous Four Seasons Palo Alto and the Yahoo! Sunnyvale Campus for the Yahoo! Motherboard Summit.  For the past few months I have been a part of the Yahoo! Motherboard, a group of mombloggers who blog monthly about a specific topic and whose collective voices are gathered together by Yahoo!  They brought us together in real life for the first time so we could brainstorm, give feedback, get a peek behind the purple curtain at what those creative Yahooligans are coming up with next, and drink lots of mojitos.  It certainly felt like mojitos were in the master plan.  And cupcakes (more about those later!)

Sibby cupcakes for Y! motherboard

sibby cupcakes!

After a full day of panels, breakout sessions, schmoozing and eating here are my

Top Ten things I Learned at the Yahoo! Motherboard Summit:

  1. Yahoo! Takes Women Seriously. Yes they wanted to hear from us the mom-blogging community, but they also have an incredible amount of savvy, funny, smart women leading and managing their company.  From the dynamic CMO Elisa Steele who told us that all moms are “C” level executives to the great women of Flickr, Yahoo! Shine, Yahoo! Green and For Good and the Motherboard leaders themselves.  Even the men who presented felt compelled to show their parenting cred before speaking.  Well done.
  2. Parenting Doesn’t Stop at the Laptop Screen. Internet Safety is real-life safety.  Integrate lessons about character, responsibility, self-respect and right from wrong into everyday life and make sure that what is acceptable off-line is the same as what’s acceptable online.  It’s sad that kids can no longer make stupid mistakes, but that is our new reality.  Get with it.
  3. This Post is Already Too Long.  According to the “Yahoo! Style Guide”  300 words is all the average person will read.  I’m just going to say that my readers are smarter than average so I know you’ll stick with me.
  4. I Need to Use Flickr. It’s true I don’t use it now.  The whole public aspect of it freaked me out.  But I’m liking all of the various new privacy settings, photo groups and ease of tagging.  They gave us a Pro Account so I’ll be writing on it as I use it.
  5. Yahoo Employees Turn Purple When Embarrassed. During Cody Simms’ Social Platform presentation he clicked over to show his Yahoo Mail on the screen and his inbox was awash in twitter notifications that mom after mom were now following him.  You want social?  We’ll give you social.  He never quite recovered.
  6. Advertising Is Up For Grabs It’s not just about eyeballs anymore.  It’s about reach.  It’s about quality and novelty, but more importantly I think it’s about customization.  God knows users are giving away more information about themselves than ever before so when will the agencies figure out how to give them exactly what they want where and when they want it?
  7. The Power for Good is a Click Away.  Both Yahoo! Green and Yahoo! for Good provide clear resources and ideas for taking action and making a difference.  But, I never knew about them before this trip.  Have you?  I am looking forward to seeing how they better call people to action through social media.
  8. The Internet is a Toddler. Maybe this is why moms are in there trying to use it, tame it and shape it.  Watching a company try to figure out the next iteration of the internet, the future of social media and how this is all going to shake out is both inspiring and humbling.  No one knows what lies ahead but everyone is trying to get there first or at least stake a claim.  Mom Bloggers are certainly part of that pioneering group.
  9. New York Must Cede its Cupcake Crown. Move over Crumbs. Bye-bye Magnolia.  The Sibby Cupcakes from San Mateo California were moist, not too sweet, beautiful, whimsical and tasted divine.  And according to herbadmother if you eat just the tops you can eat more of them.  Yes, these truly were a highlight.
  10. Mom Bloggers are Fierce, Friendly and Funny.  Well I’ve always known this, but those two days cemented my opinion of my fellow bloggers.  Insightful, witty and slightly twisted in their views of the world.  These aren’t just moms, these are power social media users – when they talk, suggest or comment brands should listen.  Yahoo! did.

@c2cmom and @beccasara (me) taming the Yahoo! bull

Want a blow by blow of the summit? Check out kimberly coleman’s (mominthecity) great live blogging notes and images.

And mom bloggers are crafty in more ways than one – check out Thien Kim Lam’s fab crafty PJ party post-cocktails!

all photos courtesy of Amy Mueller

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