What’s it to ya?

The Gage Apple Cider Donut with Orange Coriander Ice Cream

Today is a day of gifts. Three Kings bring gifts.  No matter your tradition, why not accept the gifts I’m giving to you right now? There are eight gifts below. Take your pick!

So what’s it to ya? Food. Oh food. I love it! As I write, I’m trapped with my family indefinitely in my 1200 square foot condo in Chicago and it’s -7 degrees. We’ve been inside for days, weeks! I get extra credit for getting dressed today, accessorizing and putting on a little makeup.  (Don’t ask me if I’m in an elastic waistband. Well now that I raised it, of course I am.)  I’ve rebooked my mother’s flight to Philly five times. And five times her flight has been cancelled. All my home projects are not done and yet, I feel renewed and that I’ve had one of the best family hangouts of all time.

So about food. We wake up and plan our meals while eating breakfast. My mother “smuggled” 12 Tastykake pies and two dozen soft pretzels through TSA. Food is how we celebrate, commiserate, communicate and exist. This, my friends, is a recipe for an emotional relationship with food. And guess what, I can deal with it. However, I still like to tap into some resources to help me understand it and to pay attention to when and how much I eat. To why I eat and whether I’m actually, get this: hungry!

So this post (featuring the most gorgeous apple cider doughnut from one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago – The Gage) is all about loving food and loving your body, no matter where you are at.

So to keep this easy to digest, here are some of my favorite resources right now in the world to celebrate food, eating, your body and your health. (Note to dog lovers–there’s a part about a healthy “beer” for dogs):

1. Body Image Movement: Taryn Brumfitt, this amazing Australian former model is now an amazing normal person who eats burgers and is healthy and likes her body. Do you struggle with that? Then check out her website and become her friend on Facebook.

2. Food Babe: You will learn more than you probably want to learn…my husband has now become a healthy smoothie expert in part due to Food Babe’s influence. Vani, aka Food Babe, is a person who had an office job, then got appendicitis that was misdiagnosed, then chose to revamp the way she eats and lives. Some of my favorite resources include her interview with Marie Forleo featuring five healthy foods you shouldn’t eat, her piece on beer and Pepperidge Farm Goldfish (think scientists making a chemical ingredient in your smiley snack cracker that interacts with your brain to make your crave it more – red alert!). It’s worth subscribing to her blog and check out this recent New York Times article which features the Food Babe Army.

3. Dawg Grog: Since I mentioned the beer post above, I know that I have a ton of readers who are dog lovers and beer drinkers. Yesterday I read an article about this wonderful entrepreneur from Bend, Oregon who likes to kick back with a brew at the end of the day and his dog, wants to do the same. Thus, Dawg Grog was born. It’s nonalcoholic and contains some healthy ingredients for your pup. Check it out.

4. What’s a GMO? It’s a genetically-modified organism. While I’m not an expert, here’s how I look at it as a consumer: there’s food that grows on the planet and food that’s altered by scientists with chemicals modified to grow differently or to interact with human beings to create certain reactions. In the early 90s new proteins were introduced into the food supply. No human trials were conducted to see if they were harmful. The hormones, for example, injected into cows to create more milk caused the cows to get sick, have cysts and need antibiotics. So countries like the UK and Canada decided that is wasn’t proven safe and opted not use them. The U.S. took a different approach. They decided that it wasn’t proven dangerous and so kept using them. Cysts in Cows? Cancer in People? The U.S. has a higher rate of cancer with 9 out of 10 cases being caused by the environment. It’s not just cows, it’s soy, it’s corn. There’s even a corn that has been engineered that as it grows it releases its own insecticide. General Mills is not permitted to use GMOs in its Cheerios in Europe, but until their announcement a few days ago, they used them in U.S. manufactured Cheerios. Think about how many kids eat cheerios in the U.S.

Robyn O’Brien, author of The Unhealthy Truthis a former food industry analyst, a conservative with type A personality who had four kids in five years. One morning, after eating L’eggo my Eggo waffles and blue yogurt, her kid’s face began to swell up. She had no idea what was happening. The rest is history. I urge you to set aside 18 minutes for your own health to watch her “Patriotism on a Plate” Tedx talk. She’s been called the Erin Brockavich of the food industry.  And here’s what Erin Brockavich says about her: I believe that in the absence of the truth, all of us stand helpless to defend ourselves, our families and our health, which is the greatest gift we have. You don’t have to be a doctor or a scientist to look into whether our food supply is safe, and Robyn O’Brien’s courageous pursuit of THE UNHEALTHY TRUTH is an example of how we can all do our parts to protect the health of our families.”  If you want to learn more about food allergies, check out her organization, Allergy Kids, or Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) or read my Courage to Be Catherine post.

5. Weight Watchers: Peeps, this is not a diet. I’m going to tell you something, I don’t always count “points” on this program. It’s a lifestyle which raises your consciousness about how you eat and why you eat.  The meetings are worth it.  I lost 25 pounds on it in utter and complete kindness to myself.

6. Kerri Richardson, Clutterbuster, Intuitive Life and Business Strategist: What can I say about Kerri? She kicks butt. She is a total and complete straight-talker from Massachusetts. I took her clutterbuster e-course this year and it changed my life. For real. We dealt with physical, mental and emotional clutter and are you ready for this: love handles can be a form of clutter. I’m not talking Body Image Movement love handles, I’m talking lots of excess weight that impacts your health. And here’s the cool thing about all that I learned from Kerri, none of it makes you feel guilty or bad. It’s a message to you and you can listen to it. Hey love handles, what are you trying to tell me? Lucky you, Kerri is offering a free webinar on weight loss on January 17. Even if you are shy, just consider listening in. By the way, Kerri lost 70 pounds, and she was nice to herself along the way.

7. Geneen Roth: Author, When Food is Love and Women Food and God, An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything. This is a referral from a friend. She read the latter book and it completely changed her relationship to food. Regardless, I’m also intrigued by her book, Lost and Found: One Women’s Story of Losing her Money and Finding her Life. She lost her money in the Madoff fiasco and found a big a-ha moment related to a mentality of lack and scarcity related to money which she had never discovered despite all of her work in this arena related to food. So the lesson here: we are all human.  Always learning.

8. Love it. This is from my expert opinion. Love your food. Enjoy your food. You don’t need to overanalyze it. You need to pay attention. That’s it. No diets. Just pay attention. A book which I’ve always enjoyed is French Women Don’t Get Fat, by Mirelle Guiliano, the former President and CEO of Clicquot, Inc. And you know what, French women consume, bread, cheese, red wine and champagne. They enjoy life. And they know that the first three bites will taste the same as the 7th, 8th and 9th bites. So sometimes, they stop at the first three.

Okay friends, eight tips, that’s my lucky number, so with that I say Happy Epiphany, Three Kings and Happy, Happy EATING, LIVING AND LOVING!

xo, me

Bustin’ Loose

Paris Soap
“Clutter is anything that’s preventing you from living out loud…the solution to your clutter is in the source of your clutter.” –Kerri Richardson, Intuitive Life and Business Strategist

I have been thinking about clutter—paper, digital and now, emotional and physical clutter.  I woke with a song in my head–“Bustin’ Loose” by Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers. We’ve been cleaning things out at home and just the other night, my son reached into my sock drawer and pulled out this soap that I bought in Paris in 2005. Yes, I bought this soap eight years ago and haven’t used it.  Why? I think it’s because my grandmother used to put Maja soap in her “special drawers” to make her things smell good. I don’t know if it was socioeconomic, but the idea was, you never actually used that soap to wash yourself. It was too nice and expensive. I think I transferred that to my Paris soap. And while we are in confession mode, on the same day, my husband asked me if we could get rid of my Kitchen Aid mixer attachments, which I have had for 20 years and used once. I have used the mixer religiously since I bought it in 1993. Do you know that I somehow had an emotional attachment to those mixer accessories? Well, when I caught Kerri Richardson’s online radio appearance about her upcoming Clutter Clearing Video Course which starts this Thursday, October 3rd, I learned a ton. (Her course lasts 30 days and anyone can do it from anywhere, no matter your schedule).

First, she openly talked about her own “clutterbusting” on her journey to lose 61 pounds thus far. She blogs about how her extra layers were like soft and squishy armor and served as protection from feelings of vulnerability. In response to a caller who struggles with letting go of medical articles piled all over her house, Kerri referenced a client who did something similar, and when she dug a little deeper, she found that client kept the articles because it made her feel validated and smart. The flip side is that perhaps as a child, she wasn’t valued for her intelligence.

I know that some folks don’t like to delete emails if they have a boss that’s abusive and might turn around any day and try to question their work. Or perhaps you’ve experienced verbal, emotional or physical abuse and surround yourself with stuff as protection. Then there’s the person who keeps every ratty t-shirt for the last 30 years as totems to the spontaneous life that’s given way to stability and predictability.  Think about how much more time, mental and physical energy you might have if you let go.

I’m ready to let go of my mixer accessories. Upon reflection, besides the obvious fact that I don’t use them, I remember working hard to be able to afford a “good mixer” because I love to cook. And at one point in my life, I wanted to be a chef and restaurant owner. Letting go of those items doesn’t take away what I earned or my love of cooking.  It creates space in my house, in my head, in my heart. And it makes me want to sing, “I feel like bustin’ loose, give me the bridge y’all, give me the bridge y’all.” You know the rest, and if you don’t, click here to listen.  And also, think about Kerri Richardson’s Clutter Clearing Video course.  She’s a straight-talkin’ strategist who will get you where you need to be.