Pumpkins, Pumpkins Everywhere!

DSC06101-1.JPGThe last month has been leading up to the trick or treat frenzy about to take place tomorrow. But, what happens to all those cute little pumpkins after the big day is done? Well, if you find yourself with spare sugar pumpkins that haven’t been carved, roast them and you’ve got a base for pies, muffins and even risotto. Here’s the scoop on making homemade pumpkin puree. You’ll need the smaller variety of pumpkins (not to be confused with the tiny decorative gourd-like ones).

Cut a small pie pumpkin (also called sugar pumpkins) in half, scoop out the seeds and place cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 400ยบ until flesh is tender when pierced with a fork, about 30 to 40 minutes depending on the size. Let cool completely, then scoop out flesh and add to the work bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Use as directed in recipes that call for canned or fresh pumpkin puree.

Ready, Set, Slow

When it comes to lasting weight loss, slow and steady wins the race.
Although many people take on the latest diet program, quick fix or promise of immediate results, most only find themselves right back where they started in a relatively short period of time. In fact, most people who take drastic measures to lose weight not only gain back what they lost, but gain even more leaving them more discouraged and frustrated with each attempt.
Why do we continue to put our time, effort and energy into the “quick fix” and why doesn’t it work?
Dieting doesn’t work for many reasons. The first reason is that drastic steps are temporary…at best. It isn’t realistic to commit into a 7-day-a-week exercise program if we haven’t been exercising at all or to think that we can drastically reduce our calories for the long term if we have many eating behaviors that caused the weight gain in the first place. If the changes we make can’t comfortably be worked into our day, our routine, our lifestyles and our lives, whatever we take on isn’t likely to continue. We may be able to commit to an overhaul in food choices or eating behaviors for a short while but when confronted with something that triggers us to overeat or abandon our best efforts, we will immediately go back to what is familiar and comfortable.
What is familiar and comfortable? Our habits. Whether they’re good or bad they’re what we’re comfortable with. That’s why when we want to lose weight those habits which originally caused the weight gain must be changed. We’ve all heard the saying “habits are hard to break” and because that’s true, a slow and steady approach needs to be used to develop new, healthier habits to replace the old, unhealthy ones.
So how do we break the habits which lead us to gain weight?
One thing we need to look at is our “diet mentality.” For many moms, we’re either on or off a diet at any given time. If we have that “all or nothing” or “black or white” extreme behavior when it comes to weight loss, there’s no room for error and no way to recover from any mistakes made along the way. If the road to weight loss doesn’t allow for some imperfection, it is unrealistic to think that we can stick it out for the long haul.
Life throws us some curveballs from time to time, that’s a given. How we handle those curveballs may require some adjustments to our eating plan. If our eating plan doesn’t allow for those adjustments, where does that leave us?
It leaves us right off our diet. Angry, frustrated and discouraged, we revert right back to what is so deeply ingrained within us. Any progress made is abandoned and for many moms, here’s where the negative self talk takes us even further away from believing weight loss success is possible as we berate ourselves with every bite of foods we’ve sworn off for good. So, if this sounds so familiar and you’ve had enough of “yo-yo dieting”, weight cycling and diet behavior, what can you do?
1) Understand that each time you start an unrealistic diet, you chip away at your confidence and belief in your ability that you can lose weight. The more you chip away at that confidence, the less you trust yourself and the more powerless you become.
2) Understand that although it doesn’t sound as appealing as a “miracle cure” or “immediate solution”, weight loss is a journey. The more you discover why you gained the weight and understand that your habits can and need to be changed, the more weight loss success you’ll have.
3) Focus on the fact that each habit you change serves as a stepping stone to greater confidence, trust and belief in yourself. When we isolate a habit we want to change, put our efforts into finding a solution to turn that habit into one that better suits us, we feel proud and happy with our ability to take control of our eating and our behavior. That simply feels good and enables us to see that our choices and decisions are within our control. It brings about a feeling of strength and empowerment as well as increases our confidence and self esteem.
When we feel confident, strong and empowered, we’re proud of ourselves and realize that anything is within our grasp. While it may be more exciting to believe that drastic efforts bring huge results, when it comes to weight loss, the greatest results are found by making the most minimal…but consistent changes.
Do you have any tips or tricks that have worked for you to stay motivated on a slow, steady course toward a healthier lifestyle? Share them here in the comments or drop me a note!
Debi Silber, “The Mojo Coach”

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Continue reading “Ready, Set, Slow”

40 Pounds Ago

images.jpegSince my daughter is now 10 and I can’t blog about the specifics of what goes on in her daily life, what I can share is an earth shattering observation about her weight…and mine. You see, my daughter is now in 5th grade – the same year my weight started spiraling out of control and my parents contemplated signing me up for Weight Watchers.
My daughter, who is now 4 feet 7 inches tall, weighs 65 pounds. When I was her height and was 11, I weighed 106 pounds. Yes, you heard me the first time. Four feet, seven inches tall and one hundred and six pounds. I was forty one pounds heavier than my daughter is today.
When I turned 12 and the teasing at school became incessant, I did finally step inside that Weight Watchers Center and while I initially had to lose at least 30 pounds, I grew four inches and reduced the weight loss goal by 10 pounds. And so, while I managed to lose 20 pounds, I have to say that in hindsight, I was very fortunate that my parents decided to take the bull by the horns and guide me along my weight loss journey.
Today, when I think about kids who are struggling with obesity issues, it often takes me back to the days when I was standing in their shoes. And trust me, it was not fun. It was not fun to be teased, to be out of breath when I walked up a flight of stairs, and to feel completely self conscious since I was one of the few kids who couldn’t fit into a pair of Jordache jeans or Sergio Valentes – and back in the early eighties, if you didn’t own a pair, you were deemed uncool for school. With the help of supportive parents, I managed to reach my goal and while I’ve always struggled with weight as an adult, I’ve never let the scales tip too far over the line.
If you’re a mom with a child struggling to lose weight, let me offer this word of advice. Take them by the hand and join a program where you can shed the pounds together. Start exercising with them – go bike riding, ice skating, play the Wii or just take a long walk. If you help your own child achieve their weight loss goals, they will never forget you for it. Just ask me. I’m forever indebted to my parents who realized I had a problem and helped me confront it head on!
So while those 40 pounds may be a thing of the past, they are a constant reminder that staying fit and healthy is truly a family affair.

Making a Difference…One Step at a Time

7430_143438197028_681987028_2798247_3497783_n.jpgIn honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, we were proud to be a part of a very special initiative, the Gal to Gal Virtual Walk. We have been involved with this innovative fundraising effort since its inception two years ago, and have joined dozens of celebrities, breast cancer patients, supporters, family and friends on a 31 day virtual walk across America. All it takes is a five dollar donation (or you could donate more) and you can help grant the wishes of dozens of stage IV breast cancer patients.
The Gal to Gal Foundation, founded by Jeanne Fitzmaurice, the founder of Design her Gals, was established in honor of two women who were very close to Jeanne who lost their battle to breast cancer. The tour kicks off every year in Boston, the hometown of Jeanne’s cousin Robin and ends in San Francisco, where her dear friend, Janice lived. In fact, prior to her death, Janice helped Jeanne create the Gal to Gal Foundation by crafting the organization’s mission to help patients and families battling the final stages of breast cancer.
In 2007, Dorit Shapiro, a mom of two who had been diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, became involved with the Gal to Gal Walk when she created her gal online and encouraged friends and family to participate. In addition, Dorit shared her personal story with the local CBS affiliate in Philadelphia and then asked Jeanne how she could donate her time and energy to the cause. Over the next year, Dorit researched organizations where Gal to Gal could donate funds to assist stage IV patients. As a result, Gal to Gal partnered with Living Beyond Breast Cancer – an organization which hosts events and provides vital educational information to patients and their families. The Gal to Gal Foundation also donates funds to Making Memories, which is dedicated to granting wishes of patients battling the final stages of the disease.
Aug2005BeforeDiagnosis.jpgIn 2008, Dorit was named the President of the Gal to Gal Foundation and in honor of this appointment, the organization hosted an event in New York City where Dorit gave a heartfelt speech about her commitment to helping patients such as herself who were facing an uncertain future. Despite the fact that her health was failing, Dorit looked radiant that evening and was thrilled to be surrounded by her close family, friends and supporters who joined her for this very special occasion. Less than one week later, Dorit passed away.

It is our hope that as we enter the final week of the Gal to Gal Virtual Walk, that we honor Dorit’s memory by spreading the word about the importance of helping those individuals who were unable to catch their breast cancer diagnosis in time. There are countless women and men battling stage IV breast cancer and many no longer have the funds to pay for medical expenses or grant a final wish. We hope you’ll find it in your heart this October to touch the lives of someone who really needs your help.
Join now and create your personal gal or guy and start strutting side by side with celebrities like Martha Stewart, Kristen Chenoweth, Lisa Rinna, Larry King, Steve Covey, and Denise Richards on a cross country virtual walk across the nation. Plus, if you register a team on the site, you can also be eligible to win a 7 day all expenses paid vacation to Puerta Vallarta. The team to raise the most funds on behalf of Gal to Gal will win this lavish trip.
I hope you will find the time to use your computer keyboard for a great cause. It only takes a few minutes to join more than 3000 women and men who are on a mission to help stage IV breast cancer patients and their families. Visit GaltoGalWalk.org today and make a donation to this incredibly worthwhile cause.

Uma Thurman Tackles New Role: Mom Blogger

mother-707394.jpgRecently, I was invited to participate in a mom blogger conference call with feature film actress and mom of two, Uma Thurman. Thurman stars in the soon to be released comedy “Motherhood” which centers on one pivotal day in the life of a stressed out, stay-at-home blogging mom. The Motherhood also stars Anthony Edwards, who portrays Thurman’s husband, and Minnie Driver (love her).
As each blogger chimed in, I could sense that each of us were leading incredibly harried lives. A snapshot of our stretched-to-the-max group included one multi-tasking mom who was racing to the airport. Another was conducting the interview from her kitchen while her toddler rattled off breakfast demands. Line five featured a mom trying to calm her crying infant, while another baby gurgled and cooed on someone else’s line. As a cacophony of baby sounds blasted out the typical muzak you hear before a call starts, we were given instructions on how to mute the phone. I guess a mute button lesson was in order so that when Uma called in, you’d be able to hear a pin drop, rather than hearing someone blurt out, “Mommy, I have to go poop.”
Before we knew it, Uma jumped on the line and was ready for our questions. What follows is an excerpt of our favorite responses:
Question: How do you manage to juggle work and family?
Uma: It’s really hard to do – basically I don’t work at all the same or as often as I used to. I prefer films. It’s just a matter when things get tough, you try to forgive yourself if you missed out. As much as I want to be in eight places, I can’t. I try to have a rich and warm family life with all the time I do have and I try to strike a balance.
Question: Tell us about your character in The Motherhood.
Uma: This is a story where the mother is central to the experience. She’s the one being seen for her actions – she’s not there to focus her attention on how to relate to the person of interest. I just think that Katherine’s character is so honest. She feels fulfilled and compromised in a way by totally being in baby land and not stimulating other parts of her life. I like that she has flaws and anger issues. She’s funny and charming and just sort of real.
Question: How do you feel motherhood is portrayed in Hollywood films?
Uma: I think that motherhood has always been put on the third shelf down. I’ve had one woman say to me – why do I want to watch a movie about my own boring life? We so discredit our own experience and some believe that raising human beings is so unimportant. Some women think it’s not worthy of consideration or they really appreciate it if they’ve experienced it.
Question: Why does your character blog?
Uma: She’s someone who studied to be a writer and she’s a novice novelist. She has also chosen and dedicated herself to raising her child. Having a mommy blog is a way to exercise her creativity that fits in with her life as a mother.
Question: How has having children made you a better actress?
Uma: It changed me completely. You are never the same person before and after you have children. I guess when I do get to work, I feel so appreciative of it because I don’t get to do it all the time. It’s made much more clear lines of my life and my work and I deeply appreciate it.
Question: What was your biggest challenge working on the film?
Uma: I was surprised by what wonderful actors the children who played my kids were and how great it was to act with them. I never really played a realistic mom before and having the chance to work with those kids on such a wonderful and warm script was such a great aspect.
Question: Do you read mommy blogs?
Uma: You know I didn’t get into the blogging world. I feel guilty about it and I apologize. There is still time. I feel so badly telling you that.
Question: What are you favorite things about filming in NY and what are your least favorite things?
Uma: My favorite thing is how close it is to home. My least favorite thing is how noisy it is. The biggest challenge (in New York) is the noise challenge.
“The Motherhood” will be released in theaters this Friday, October 23 in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, and Chicago. If you’d like the chance to win tickets to a screening in one of these cities, comment now and we’ll be in touch soon if we’ve selected you as a winner!

A Cut Above the Rest

jimandbruce-thumb-300x200-1162-1.jpgThis week, we were lucky enough to catch up with Jim McCann, the founder of 1-800 Flowers and Bruce Bozzi, Executive Vice President for The Palm Restaurant. Listen in to this inspirational chat about how these two amazing family run companies are joining forces and find out their valuable tips on running a successful business. Plus, click on this link to find out more about what The Palm and 1-800 Flowers have in store for consumers this holiday season.

Cupcakes, Sneakers & Stars…Oh My!

jill and kelly iv.JPGOver the past year, I’ve been fortunate enough to attend lots of memorable events – from fitness demos with stars, to wine tastings with bubble experts, to private dinners with magazine editors and even a coffee klatch with Suze Orman. But my latest adventure definitely takes the cake. The cupcake, that is.
Earlier this week, we drove into Manhattan, pointed the Nav system toward SoHo and thankfully stumbled upon Billy’s Bakery on Franklin Street.
billys.JPGOnce we parked the Tiguan, we walked around the corner and eye-balled the sneaker display in front of the window. Since we had arrived a few minutes early, we decided to pop inside and take a look at the offerings. And let me tell you, I began salivating just looking at the cupcakes on the table. But I had to focus. I wasn’t just here to inhale cupcakes. Oh no. I was going to meet the man who created Reebok’s latest revolutionary fitness sneaker and get the chance to shoot the breeze with two of the Real Housewives of NYC, Jill Zarin and Kelly Killoren.
Once we were handed a shoebox bearing our name, we placed our shoes inside and slipped on our sneakers. From there, we were encouraged to sample Billy’s cupcakes and I opted for the Peanut Butter (absolutely delish). Then, Bill McInnis, the Inventor of Reebok’s Easy Tone Technology, explained how their latest footwear was going to get us in shape quicker and more efficiently than the typical sneaker.
Since I am all about finding ways to make my butt smaller without spending too much time doing it, I was really excited to learn that Reebok EasyTone helps tone key leg and butt muscles every time you take you a step!
And so, after licking the peanut butter frosting off my first cupcake, I was ready and raring to go. We headed out the door and then hit Milk & Cookies where there were more delectable cupcakes awaiting us. This time around, I asked for a box so I could take two stowaway cupcakes home for my kids.
While we power walked down the streets of SoHo, I had the chance to chat one on one with Jill Zarin and she shared her secret to staying in shape. And guess what…it doesn’t involve going to the gym. We also compared butt sizes. Intrigued? Well then, why not watch, listen and learn.

We ended our cupcake crawl at what is now going to be my favorite cupcake place ever, Sweet Revenge. Want to know why? Simple – they pair cupcakes and wine. It doesn’t get any better than that. Once we grabbed a stool at the bar, the owner explained how she paired a lovely cabernet with a gorgeous array of chocolate velvet cupcakes and all I could think about was how I totally wanted to come back to this place for date night.
Before we knew it, our cupcake and sneaker adventure had ended and I had to race back to New Rochelle so that I could turn back into a pumpkin and pick up my daughter from Hebrew School. As the school bells were clanging, I narrowly made it back in time. And as I raced up the stairs in my brand new Reeboks, I hugged my daughter and she instantly knew something was different.
“Mommy, are those new sneakers? They’re so cool. I want a pair too!” While I explained that Reebok hadn’t yet come out with Easy Tone footwear for tweens, she was quite satisfied when I presented her with a cupcake instead. Nothing puts a smile on a girl’s face quite like a chocolate cupcake. And judging by the size of my butt, that old adage has definitely stood the test of time.
If you want to find out where you can get your hands on a pair of Reebok Easy Tone sneakers, they are currently available at top retailers in the U.S. including Lady Foot Locker, Dick’s Nordstrom (gotta love that) and of course, through Reebok.com.
For more hilarious scenes from our frosted cupcakes and fitness adventure, check out our Whrrl montage below…

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