Category Archives: Healthy habits

The wilds of Brooklyn

When we moved out to Brooklyn a few years ago, I was okay with our neighborhood, it was close to the train and Park Slope and friends. When we moved farther down the line last summer, I got a little freaked out. While it was only a subway stop further, it felt FAR OUT. It is far out. Park Slope is suddenly a shlep and takeout places don’t deliver here. And while this past year has been a whirlwind of renovation, pregnancy, long ass winter, more pregnancy, soggy spring, here we are, and I finally feel at a place where I can start to appreciate where we live and make it our home.

Last weekend we joined our local community garden. Membership includes a key to the garden, two containers to grow stuff (and we’re waitlisted for a small plot) and access to the compost bins, herb garden and a lovely green ENCLOSED outdoor space. I went over with the boys and we tried to see the fish in the fish pond, looked for snails and chucked unripe apricots at the compost bins, a lovely way to spend an hour. I’m so pleased to be a member of this garden, not only because it’s one step closer to feeling like we actually live in a community, but because my kids will have the chance to learn how things grow, to have respect for that which does grow and lives outdoors and know how to get their hands dirty.

We also live a few blocks away from the Kensington Stables. Actual horse stables (you know those horses you sometimes see in the park, this is where they come from) where one can go in and look at the horses and feed them carrots and for $3 take a pony ride three times up and down the block. Here is H riding his first pony. Sniff.

A few blocks from the horses, we found a guy who keeps fancy chickens in his front yard. I have no idea what breed of chicken Mel and Ed are (they are fancy looking, Mel is white, Ed is black) and the guy sometimes lets H feed them and has told us they scare off the cats and any other predators they might have. It has reinforced my desire to have chickens. Some day. On days when I can’t stand the idea of going and looking at horses standing around, we will go see if the chickens are out in the yard.

And a few blocks away from that, is the Sean Casey Animal Rescue Clinic, they specialize in rescuing reptiles and in their courtyard they have three huge Sulcata tortoises (I only know they are called Sulcata’s because we once owned one. We were those terrible people who bought a tortoise not knowing what we were getting ourselves into and once he got too big for the apartment, we had to send him down to Florida to find a new home.) Visiting the turtles is endlessly exciting, even though for the most part they are sleeping or eating lettuces. Sometimes, we can go inside the shop and look at the snakes, gerbils, parrots, grubs and occasional cat and dog.

Hansel, our Sulcata

And I can’t not mention the Prospect Farm, a small plot of land that is being turned into a working farm on Prospect Avenue, across the street from the fruit grove (somebody has fig, peach, pear, plum and apple trees in their yard) and the dude who makes his own maple syrup and sells it on the sidewalk on weekends.

Sometimes I feel weird that we live in NYC and I have seemingly stopped taking advantage of what this city offers, but the other day I realized that given where I am in my life right now, there is so much more to enjoy right where I am. This weird little neighborhood wouldn’t exist if the most fabulous and wonderful people didn’t live in this city for whatever reason they have to be here, and for some reason have decided to make this little corner of town into a veritable farmstead, an urban country. And in my continued effort to exist in the present, it’s a pretty good place to be.

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Filed under Brooklyn, Healthy habits, musing

toxins=gross

As if I don’t have enough to worry about.

We moved to Brooklyn from Long Island City in 2008. I was pregnant, we were living in a big drafty third floor walk up apartment with no laundry that overlooked the midtown tunnel toll plaza and just beyond that, the Newtown Creek, you know, one of the most polluted waterways in the country.  I wasn’t excited about the idea of raising a baby exposed to those toxins. And this is aside from the fact that Jeremy works in a shop on the Gowanus canal, a brand new Superfund site. I relish the day he comes home having sprouted a second head.

And now there’s this “a just-released report by the National Cancer Institute that showed a 9.4% increase in childhood cancer between 1992 and 2007, the FDA let moms and dads all across America down. Instead of making the long overdue move to do something serious about getting rid of toxic food dyes so ubiquitous in our food supply, they instead fell back on those two simple words so often used to stall, delay and deny: “more research.”” Link to the full article at Healthy Child, Healthy World here.

But if you don’t feel like clicking on the link, the gist of the article is that so much of our packaged food, most of which is marketed towards kids, includes artificial dyes and food colors, and links are being made between these dyes and hyperactivity, cancer and food allergies. Okay, so we as progressive parents know about these dyes, and to read labels and avoid processed foods when we can, but if you’re still with me, here’s the kicker. Major food manufacturing corporations, I’m looking at you Kraft, Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, have removed these dyes from food they manufacture and sell in other countries. What ?!?!

In the UK, these companies “have voluntarily removed artificial colors, the preservative sodium benzoate, and even aspartame from their products. Particularly those marketed to kids. Take a close look at the ingredient list for the product below.”

So if these companies have proved that they can make healthy processed foods without the added chemicals, WHY can’t they do it for our kids? Why can’t the FDA just admit that added chemicals are not good for us and let’s move on. In the meantime, keep reading those labels and keep eating clean.
But wait, there’s more. I just heard this crazy statistic – up to 80% of the antibiotics used in the US are given to farm animals, and only 20% go to sick people.  The animals in question are not necessarily sick, but are given the drugs prophylactically so they’ll grow faster and won’t get sick from the wholly unhealthy conditions they live under. A regular grass fed cow takes something like 5 years to go to slaughter, whereas a corn-fed cow given an unhealthy dose of antibiotics can be ready for slaughter in 9 MONTHS. This is bananas.
Props to NY Congresswoman, Louise Slaughter, (the only microbiologist in Congress) for raising awareness and bringing this to the floor. Back in 2009 she introduced the The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), designed to ensure that we preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for the treatment of human disease. Last month she reintroduced the bill. The new bill aims to prevent certain antibiotics from being given to animals, because they’re the same ones (think tetracycline, penicillin, etc.) that we humans rely on to fight off dangerous infections. The more those antibiotics are given to animals, the more antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” develop—and these superbugs are responsible for a growing number of deaths. For example, each year 90,000 Americans die from bacterial infections acquired during hospital stays, and 70 percent of those infections were resistant to the drugs that should have conquered them.
If you’ve stayed with me this far, some things you can do. Buy organic meat, dairy and eggs. Rather than spend the money to eat antibiotic laden food , spend the money, buy the good stuff and eat less of it. Write your congressperson and ask them to support PAMTA. Click here for an easy link.

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Filed under Family, healthy eating, Healthy habits, mom stuff

If we can’t live on the Mediterranean, at least we can pretend

Last night was a rough one, baby W had some gas, not just some gas, a lot of GAS, bad gas, keeping him up all night crying gas, farting, burping, help me the only thing that will make me not cry is nursing and oops I just nursed too much and spit up all over you gas. So I had a lot of time to think.

And one of the things I thought about is how there is a strong possibility that my dietary choices are affecting this little baby’s gastrointestinal system. And maybe I should start paying more attention to what I’m eating and avoid those gassy foods (and firstly find out what those gassy foods are).

Which then started me thinking about the Mediterranean diet that has been oft discussed in the news lately. And I can really dig this diet. Maybe not as much as I dig the Asian diet, because sometimes I feel like I could live on brown rice and tofu, but I can get behind the philosophy of the Mediterraneans and their diet. Not to mention their great skin and healthy lifestyles but Yay fresh vegetables and fruits and whole grains and beans and olive oil and red wine. Boo meat and sweets…although it doesn’t say where chocolate falls into this plan. Dark chocolate of course…for the anti oxidants.

So I’m going to make an effort to walk this path. Here is dinner tonight.

yep, that’s a big ball of cheese, but it’s super fresh mozzarella. That counts, right?

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Filed under healthy eating, Healthy habits, stuff that makes me happy

foot fetish

I should probably write something about my road to recovery, getting back in shape, eating healthy and clean…is it okay to say bah humbug in April? Why do I find keeping a food journal next to impossible? If I can’t be honest with myself then how am I EVER going to be honest with you. Yep, I ate the rest of my kids dinner last night, nope I didn’t write it down, because if I don’t write it down then I might not remember it and won’t feel bad about it at the end of the week. This is terrible reasoning. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to say for breakfast I ate a two egg white omelet with a piece of turkey bacon and half a grapefruit and a big glass of water. Three hours later I had an apple with a teaspoon of peanut butter (for the record, does anyone really eat a teaspoon of peanut butter?) For lunch I had a big spinach salad with tofu and walnuts and olive oil and lemon dressing. And dinner was some grilled fish with vegetables…um, asparagus? and finished with a lovely fruit salad.

This is not what I ate yesterday. Okay, let’s be honest, what did I eat yesterday…breakfast was some lemon yogurt with a bit of granola and water. Lunch was some chicken from Fairway, no, it wasn’t grilled…I don’t want to say what it was. Snack was the kids leftover dinner, whole wheat pasta with edamame, olive oil, cheese. And then dinner was gumbo with okra and veggie sausage and bread and butter. And a glass of wine. And then this gross frozen yogurt thing that’s meant for little kids, but I felt I had to try it. I suppose the under 5 set would find it tasty. I also ate some of Harry’s pretzels, but only because he was sharing them so nicely with me. I think that’s it. I suppose it’s not an awful day of eating, but if I did things like meal planning or even thinking about what I was going to eat for lunch…maybe that commercial that talks about how a day of healthy eating starts with what you have for breakfast is true.

Okay, I have a 3 1/2 week old. Maybe I can start meal planning next month. And this month just think about sensible portion size and less snacks and less finishing off H’s dinner.

And on to more important things – the reason for the title of today’s post. I don’t KNOW the last time I wore heels, much less tied on my tennis shoes. And so I wonder if it’s possible to pull these off?

Two shoes for the price of one! I wonder what the playground moms would say?

Have a wonderful day!

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Filed under Healthy habits, motherhood

Inspiring myself to go for a walk

When Harry was born 2 years ago, it was a seasonal February, appropriately cold and I was happy to spend a month indoors nesting, getting to know our newest family member, having friends come over, napping whenever. I remember it being a quiet, peaceful time. After about a month, I was ready to get back to life and start moving. Spring was in the air, we had recently moved a few blocks away from the park and I didn’t have to worry about going in to work. I wanted to go for a walk, push my new baby in his new stroller and get some blood pumping back to my heart. At 8 weeks post partum, a friend told me about this woman who was starting a stroller fitness class – and twice a week Harry and I walked down to Grand Army Plaza and met up with a bunch of other new moms and we all worked out together. It was so much fun, the fresh air, the other moms, the exercise, the park in springtime. After the workout, sometimes I’d take an extra walk around the park just because I could, find a quiet spot to nurse the baby, go get a cup of coffee and head home, feeling like an accomplished, put together new mom. And this period of my life is what inspired me to start Stroller Strides in the first place, to bring new moms back to fitness, to inspire them to get out of the house with their kids and do something good for not only them but their kids too.

Flash forward to today – having endured a long HARSH January and part of February – where on some days I truly thought I was going to have to find some local gypsies to come over and take my child and sign him up for the circus, today it’s sunny and 50 degrees out and I am SO tired and feeling RIDICULOUSLY lazy. I truly feel as if I was in a situation that called for me to either walk the 2 blocks to the store to get a roll of toilet paper or use paper towels, I’d go for the recycled one ply kitchen option, that’s how supremely unmotivated I am (thankfully I bought in bulk last time at the store and currently do not have that issue). I KNOW that the best thing for me to do right now (and by right now I mean in an hour when Harry wakes up) is to stuff him into his stroller, put on my sneakers and go for a walk. OR, if I had my druthers, I’d sit on the couch and watch old Beverly Hills 90210 reruns and wish that the current weather wasn’t taunting me to be outside with it’s sunshiney happiness.

I’m hoping this post will guilt me into walking to the park and reminding myself of how much better it feels to get some exercise. Seriously, have you ever exercised and then afterwards, said to yourself, oh I wish I hadn’t done that. Isn’t the easy part not putting on those sneakers and making it out the door, the easy part is sitting on your couch drinking tea and watching old Bev niner episodes. Someone once told me that, the hardest part of exercise is lacing up those shoes and getting out the door, the rest comes naturally. And in just a few weeks I’ll have more than enough time where I won’t be able to go for a walk and maybe I’ll even think back to this day and say, oh you, why didn’t you go for a walk when you could…

Confession – I LOVE Keanu Reeves movies. Truly. The cheesier the better. He had this run of sports films at the turn of the century, maybe you remember The Replacements, where he plays a has-been quarterback and winds up dancing the Electric Slide with his teammates to “I Will Survive” in jail…following that movie, he made Hard Ball, where he plays a down on his luck gambler who agrees to coach a little league baseball team of misfits. It’s cute and sad at the end, and here’s my point to this…he’s trying to inspire the team and he says,

“What I’ve learned from you is that really one of the most important things in life is showing up. I’m blown away by your ability to show up through everything that’s gone on. The league never wanted you to play this game, but you showed up.”

And as cheese ball as it sounds, that quote really has inspired me more than I care to admit. That’s it though, the hardest part is to show up and once you do, you feel so much better about not only yourself, but life in general.

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Filed under Healthy habits, pregnancy, stuff that makes me happy

It’s just like really, y’know?

Driving somewhere the other day, I declared that I was putting a moratorium on the following words
like
just
really
Soooooo
y’know and lazy conjugations in general
he goes and she goes
and in general using qualifiers instead of real words

We need to start speaking like adults. I’ve been working on removing “like” from my vocabulary but it seems to have been replaced by “just”. Everything is just this and just that. So now I need to work on that. It’s even easier to write, so I’m going to work on removing it from my writing as well. Gunna is another popular one. When did we stop saying going to. I am going to do this. Yes, it’s an extra syllable, but I actually feel better about myself when I say going to instead of gunna.

I understand “like” is here to stay, but if we as parents can’t speak in sentences without using it or any of these other lazy qualifiers and conjugations we have started to use in our speech, how can we ever expect our kids to be eminent speakers or appreciate the beauty of a tremendous vocabulary.  Okay, we’re not Shakespeare, he used over 15,000 words in his plays and tooday the average American has a vocabulary of about 2,000 – 4,000 words. Wouldn’t it be fun to be able to use words that our kids will have to ask, what does that mean? And I don’t mean when they’re 2 and don’t know what a weevil is.

It’s a tough moratorium to put down in the house, because it’s a pretty slippery slope correcting your husbands speech patterns when he grew up with a mother who did the same thing. BUT we’re adults now, and we have kids who listen to EVERYTHING we say and are impressionable and you don’t hear Mr. Obama or John Stewart saying like, y’know. I know they’re usually scripted, but sometimes they’re not, when they’re home they’re not, and I bet they don’t like talk all lazy and shit. y’know?

Next up. Grammar…and the appropriate use of a comma.

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Filed under Healthy habits, mom stuff

Just because we’re stuck inside

Doesn’t mean we can’t get some exercise in.

Here are some foul weather tips on getting your exercise while you and the baby stare at each other

Arms – Instead of weights, the baby can be held or lifted slowly for resistance. As long as the baby has good head control, he will enjoy the extra face time.
Shoulders – hold the baby overhead and raise and lower while playing peek a boo.
Kiss-ups – but the baby on the floor underneath you – your hands are in line with your shoulders, raise and lower giving that baby a kiss each time you get down.

Crunches – lower obliques – lie the baby on your stomach – hands under your lower back and legs up in the air – lower them slowly down to about six inches off the ground and then slowly back up
If you have a stability ball – lie on the ball with your feet on the floor and your upper body on the ball. Place the baby on your lower lap and slowly raise and lower your chest. CRUNCHES!

Hip Bridge – again, more lying on the floor – baby on your chest – feet on the floor, knees up, raise and lower those hips, giving a good glute  squeeze with every lift.

Kegels – you can do these just about any old time. If you just read this, I hope you’re doing those kegels right now.

Butt busters – Holding the baby under his arms, your feet are hip width apart, bring one knee up and lunge laterally, lowering the baby to allow his feet to touch the floor. Keep your back straight, chin up, while lunging. Lift the baby back up, bring the knee back up and back to center.

Just Dance. Put on your favorite fast paced song and dance the whole time with the baby. They will love this and you will get that heart pumping. Harry still loves him some Britney Spears and we have a ridiculous time dancing around to her old hits.

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Filed under fitness, Healthy habits