The candid truth: My baby was born 20 days ago, my sons are behaving like characters in Lord of the Flies, and nursing has me so deliriously tired and hungry that I feel like a character in Where The Wild Things Are. As usual, my big plans to kick-start my healthy life have slipped into slow motion.
Working in television affords me the luxury of super deluxe daily hair and makeup pros. But while New York City welcomes sweet spring weather and sassy sundresses, I'm staring into a dark closet of clothes that don't fit and sporting a very tragic ponytail.
While I long for eyelash extensions and a perfect yoga body, I can't let myself get completely deflated and dive into a vat of Ben and Jerry's. Over the last three weeks, I've realized that's exactly what I typically do: "stress eat." I'm too embarrassed to keep a truly comprehensive food journal, but I know that when my stress levels are high, so is my likelihood to retreat to very comforting and very unhealthy food choices. So that's what I'm focusing on this week. I don't yet have the strength or energy to jump into the workout game, but I can certainly take a close look at my eating habits.
On Monday I had the chance to sit down with Elisabeth Hasselbeck, co-host of The View and mother of three, at the kickoff of her Active Family Project, an initiative geared to make outdoor family time a priority. Hasselbeck and I are like-minded in our efforts to keep our kids engaged in old-school outdoor antics, where relay races and obstacle courses are preferred to scheduled instruction with tutors. My family activity lineup is a bit more dance party disco than her wholesome bedtime basketball, but that's the Jersey in me.
Hasselbeck's thoughts on healthy meals and eating in general were what I found most interesting. She encourages moms to feed their kids the same foods they're eating so that ultimately, when your kids see you eating grilled chicken, they'll want to eat it with you. I've found that the opposite is also true: Feeding young kids can lead to poor eating for the entire family. I'm amazed when mothers tell me their kids love salmon and quinoa—mine love chicken fingers and French fries. Again, high stress levels make giving in to their eating demands easy, and unfortunately I often fall in too. I'll grab a slice of their pizza on my way out the door or finish their grilled cheese sandwiches while cleaning up. And that's before I sit down to my own dinner! I may consume up to 1000 extra calories a day without even noticing (but my body does).
So in conjunction with my “baby steps” plan, I’m going to be proactive but realistic. My gang isn't going to fall in love with quinoa and bulgur wheat anytime soon, and I don't have the excuse of working late to order yet another pizza. I'm bringing in the expert. Paula Hankin, founder of Clueless in the Kitchen, and I are hitting the grocery store to stock my fridge, not my pantry.
Deprivation doesn't work for me, so I'm accepting my need to nosh and planning ahead. With Paula’s help, I’ll reach for a bell pepper instead of a PopChip. Be sure to check out my blog on Friday, when I'll share some of Paula's best secrets!