Ditch the Sugar

By | @askdrtania | 2 days ago


In case you ditch me before the end of this article, let me be very clear:

Ditching sugar doesn’t mean that you should use an artificial sweetener in its place. EVER!

While living in the south, I learned that it’s all about the sugar. Sugar as in sweet tea, delivered with an equally sweet, slow, southern drawl. Had I indulged, I would surely be a diabetic by now.

There’s a whole bunch of talk about how Sitting is the New Sugar – in fact, I wrote a piece about just that, and I do mean it. However, let’s not forget that sugar is indeed still evil, and it’s an evil that hides around corners and masquerades as many other, seemingly innocent names.

Let’s take a look at a few of those, because just when you thought it was safe to eat something that did not list sugar as one of the top ingredients (and I do applaud you label-readers!), these alter-egos sneak up and bite you in the pancreas:

  • Anything ending is “ose” like “sucralose”
  • Anything with the word “syrup”
  • Anything with the word “cane”
  • Anything that says sugar, even if it sounds healthier, like beet sugar
  • Anything that says juice

Don’t mistake a natural sugar for something that is healthy, either. No sugar or sugar-like substance adds nutritional value! Got that?!

And oh – the places it hides! You have to read every single label of groceries you bring into the house, and pretty much assume that any foods you eat out will contain sugar. My family and I went sugar-free for 6 months and it was WAY harder to avoid than I thought. One time I ordered a chicken Caesar salad and asked the waiter to check with the chef to see if there was sugar in either the marinade for the chicken, or salad dressing. “We make both in house, so there probably isn’t any”, he said confidently. I was feeling pretty good about it until he came back to the table, sheepishly reporting that the chef added sugar to BOTH the simple marinade AND the dressing.

W h y   –   o h   w h y   i s   t h a t   n e c e s s a r y ? ? !

sugarAfter the torture of going completely sugar-free, we’ve backed off a bit just to be able to enjoy a meal out.

Many of us indulge in foods that are obviously full of refined sugars – desserts, sodas, candy, coffees, etc. Add that to the hidden sources, and each of us will consume about 130 pounds of sugar this year! Now, ain’t that sweet?

In my perfect world, you’d use some sugar only in dessert preparation and the very rare soft or sports drink. Otherwise, get used to the true, delicious flavors of good-quality food, prepared with fresh herbs and spices. If you do this, you’ll probably find like I did, that just looking at a candy bar makes your teeth ache, and you’ll be very happy that you ditched the sugar, sugar!

Check out FitSugar for a comprehensive list of sugar impersonators.


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3 Birthing Positions You May Want to Consider

By | @askdrtania | 4 days ago


After 9 months of waiting and hours of laboring, finally, it’s time to push your baby out.

My best advice is to listen to your body.

For example, I had every intention of having water births with our girls; but that was my mind talking. My body, though it really enjoyed laboring in the lovely, warm water, wanted OUT! So, both times, I stepped out of the tub, crouched into a half squat, and pushed my girls out in minutes. It just felt like that’s what I needed to do, and clearly, it worked for me.

So do what works for you!

Keeping in mind that gravity is a lovely assist, and that laying on your back creates an uphill trek for baby, here are some birthing positions that you may want to consider:

  1. Sitting: My birth center had a lovely rocking chair with a notch cut out, perfect for rocking the baby out.
  2. Standing/Squatting: This is what felt most natural to me, and I also felt like I had the most pushing power here.
  3. Hands and Knees: Moms who experience back labor may benefit greatly from this position during labor and delivery. An exercise ball can help to support your body while you push, and it feels great to rest like this between contractions.

cool-lineIn a healthy pregnancy, labor and delivery should not be treated like a medical condition. Rather, it’s a natural process that should be left to unfold at its own pace, in its own space. With a little creativity and an open mind, you can find a birth position that feels the most powerful and least uncomfortable to you. Practice some of these before labor starts, but don’t hold yourself to any particular position. Once the party gets started, you may have the urge to do something differently, so just go with it.

Your instincts and intuition will rarely lead you astray, both during the process of delivery and in parenting for years to come.

Best of luck!

Tags: Pregnancy

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Not Your Garden Variety Therapy

By | @askdrtania | 5 days ago


I had visions of rosemary-skewered scallops, heirloom tomato salad and homegrown eggplant parmesan, truly I did! Alas, most nights it’s a Trader Joe’s dinner du jour.

(you will grow to understand that I heart Trader Joe’s.)

When we moved into our current, sun-drenched home from our respective moss-covered houses in the woods, I couldn’t wait to put in a garden. Actually, I couldn’t wait for Braden to put in a garden for me. So we have a deer-proofed 12×20 plot of organic love in our yard. Some years we have a bumper crop that I brag about on Facebook (I grew asparagus! And artichokes that the dogs ate before we could pick them!) – and others, well, let’s just say I grow a mean weed.

gardening-sidenoteWhether it’s a season when I have time to regularly tend my veggies or a whirlwind, “D’oh! Where did the Spring go?”, I do get to dig in the dirt at least a little bit every year.

This year is looking like the latter. I am feeling kind of schlumpy today, and the plants I hurriedly picked up this week were looking a little worse for the wear in their little pots. The kids are at the gym. The hubby is golfing. And I am trying to avoid growing my own roots on the couch.

So, I forced myself out of the door and into the garden. Before I knew it, my energy picked up, I had turned over the entire plot, and planted my loot for the coming season. I even gave myself an “attagirl” for investing in a rain barrel last year, so I didn’t even have to drag the hose over to give my babies a drink.

I was so inspired to keep my toes in the grass that I weeded a few flower beds, all the while feeling grateful for our beautiful home, my garden-building husband, and the girls who, upon their arrival home, exclaimed, “Yay! The garden is in. When can we start making pesto?!”

And there you have, the REAL garden variety therapy.heart

Trader Joe, I do love you, but I’ll be seeing a little less of you this summer.

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The Guide for Good Enough Moms

By | @askdrtania | 6 days ago


It was a glorious day in Portland, Maine.  shittymom_necklace

The hubs and I were on a lobster boat, enjoying a cool drink while we motored out to the traps. So there I sat, across from someone I didn’t know, whose beautiful gold script necklace read, “@ShttyMom”.

Uh, what?! How could I not ask?

It turns out that Alicia Ybarbo (that’s her real name, btw) co-wrote THE book on being a crappy mother along with her co-authors Mary Ann Zoellner, Laurie Kilmartin, and Karen Moline.

I know, I know — you thought you wrote the bookso did I!

With chapter names like, “You Are Not Paranoid, Everyone Does Hate Your Baby”, and “Your Children Want to Ruin You”, I can promise you that ‘Sh*tty Mom’ will absolve you of any guilt over not being a Stepford Mom. I read it in one sitting, lounging by the pool while my own kids were inside watching bad TV and eating potato chips.

While in Rome, right?

My favorite chapter? “How to Drop Your Sick Kid Off at Daycare Before the Teacher Figures it Out” – Don’t judge me, I know you’ve done it, too.

For the record – Alicia talks a great game, but the mom I saw baiting lobster traps with her two kids was definitely not sh*tty.

Sorry to out you, Alicia!  

shittymomAlicia and her co-writers do a great job of making you LOL because they say what many of us are thinking, even whilst we are doing decidedly un-sh*tty things with and for our kids. Perhaps saying out loud all of the outlandish things you think (and sometimes wish) gets it off of your chest so you can get to the real business of parenting. ‘Sh*ttyMom’ arms moms everywhere with the ultimate survival tool that you’ll need for the next 18 years or so – a great sense of humor.

I highly recommend it as a great read for moms, and also recommend that you pass it on to another Sh*tty Mom like I did.

I mean, really, what’s a little Sh*t amongst friends?

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Everything Else Wellness

The 3 F’s of Yoga

By | @askdrtania | 9 days ago


I have something to say, so let’s just get this out of the way.

New yogi’s and yogini’s beware. Yoga – as fierce as it can make you, in mind, body, and spirit… can have a seriously sharp learning curve, too.

I’ve got three words for you – Farts, Faceplants and Falls.

If you are new to yoga, these three things are quite likely to happen to you. And if you are a veteran with a couple of the “F’s” under your belt – have sympathy for the newbies who blow it and bite it.

Yoga is all about finding peace amongst the chaos, right? At least that’s what it is for me. Well, that and the whole feeling fierce thing. Maybe that should be the 4th F?

If you are trying an arm balance like Crow or Scorpion – you will land on your face a few times in the process. My advice is to make sure you have a soft place to land. Half-moon, Pyramid and even a simple Side Angle pose have landed me on the floor, wondering how the hell I got there. Don’t be surprised when this happens to you. It’s a right of passage.

Yoga is all about building a practice that works for you. Pushing your body to its own limits, and sometimes finding out where those limits fall. Sometimes quite literally. Don’t be discouraged if and when it happens to you – just keep trucking, and the benefits of a habitual practice will find you, too.namaste

As for the farting, well, I haven’t yet checked that one off of my list yet, but I’ve been witness to quite a few, so I’m sure it’s coming. In the end, don’t let the fear of the F’s keep you from the zen of Y{oga}.

As always, Namaste my friends.

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Easy Street

By | @askdrtania | 10 days ago


We all want shortcuts in life, don’t we? Guess what? It ain’t happening!

Get rich quick. Lose 30 pounds in thirty days. Be an overnight success.

You’re not stupid, so stop acting that way.

Do you really think that you’ll lose weight if you drink diet soda, and eat low-fat, sugar-free cookies…. especially if you eat a whole box of them? And if you don’t already know this, you can’t spend more than you earn and expect to be anything but poor, quick. Fuggedabout rich.

Overnight successes are often 20 years in the making.

Success in any area of your life might be sprinkled with a little bit of good luck – say, if you win the lottery or inherit skinny genes from your grandma. But if you don’t invest in regular, responsible behaviors, you’ll end up like most lottery winners (poor and miserable) or many people that think skinny = healthy (either fat, sick or dead).

People – there is no Easy Street on the map of a successful life, but there most definitely is a School of Hard Knocks, and I suggest you enroll. If you spend your time envying your friend or colleague who seems to have it all, while you “poor-me” yourself into a miserable existence – I wish that you wouldn’t. I’ve had my share of acquaintances judge me for my life of Riley, as they see it. “Must be nice,” they say, “but I’m not as lucky as you are.”

Lucky-schmucky I say! I can tell you all the hard work, mistakes and hardships I’ve endured, but I choose not to. I’m too busy working my ass of to make my life successful and keep it meaningful.

Who’s with me?

Tags: Lifestyle

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Mirror Mirror

The Cost of Being Frugal

By | @askdrtania | 11 days ago

Activists Protest H&M Clothing Production Labor Conditions

This is tough one for me to swallow, as there are fewer things I love more than a good bargain. Tougher still, since I have two teenaged girls who love to shop at stores like Forever 21 and the like.

The cost to purchase a shirt at one of these stores is far less than what the cost to make it should be. Figure in zippers and buttons and freight from a far-off land, and you can guess who is getting the very short end of this high-fashion stick: the laborers.

I’m sorry, but there is just something morally wrong with us prancing around in new outfits all the time, when the very hands that created them can’t feed themselves or their families.

It’s true.  

There are so many causes that we could argue have a greater and more direct impact on our lives – like genetically modified food or water pollution – that deserve our attention. But the fact is, that these workers, for a slight twist of fate, could be any of us, and perhaps have been at some point in time.

April 23, 2013 marks the one year anniversary of a devastating day in fashion production; it’s when the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed. Over 140 labor workers were killed in the collapse of the building that was a major clothing producer for American and European brands. The largest of which, we recognize fondly; H&M, Walmart, Calvin Klein. According to the article above, H&M wasn’t producing clothes at the factory during the collapse, but pressure was put on them to lead tougher regulation regarding conditions at the factory.

Here’s the part that blows my mind, though: “The Bangladeshi news media reported that inspection teams had discovered cracks in the structure of Rana Plaza on Tuesday. Shops and a bank branch on the lower floors immediately closed. But the owners of the garment factories on the upper floors ordered employees to work on Wednesday, despite the safety risks.”

Is fashion worth THAT much?

We all have to choose our battles and perhaps this one is not yours. I do, however, ask that you be mindful in your choices, and if you can, just do a little better. For instance, shop at stores that you are certain pay a living-wage, or write letters to those manufactures that you know are not. Then YOU are participating in the solution instead of just sticking your head in the sand. Here is the Avaaz petition started after the building collapsed last year. It influenced H&M to sign the Bangladesh safety agreement – the same one GAP refused to sign.

Be informed, stay informed, and as always – try to make the best decision possible out of the available options. I suggest that all of you at the very least follow Avaaz.org – they are an extremely influential platform for change. In this case, many Bangladeshian workers now have them to thank for safer worker environments.

Thanks for reading.

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From Juicy to Jerky

By | @askdrtania | 12 days ago


I know you are dying to know what that means.

You may not have ever thought about it, but it seems that we are born with a plethora of moisture in and on our bodies. I mean think about it; babies have deliciously dewy skin, all plump and pinchable. The juiciness continues through puberty, as our glands work overtime and leave us with greasy hair and acne – leading to our infamous ‘awkward stages’. Even into adulthood, most of us deal with an oily T-zone and roots that need a good scrubbing on the daily. Can anyone relate to one of the above?

I’m sure you can.

However, that moisture does work to our advantage in matters of sexual arousal. Vaginal secretions help to keep our mucous membranes healthy, and when we are aroused, they save us from “rug burn” and make the whole sexual experience a lot more enjoyable.

Until all of it grinds to a halt, virtually overnight.

That oily T-zone? Replaced by furrows, grooves and age spots. Our hair, once shiny and lustrous from all of that oil, becomes brittle and dull. Yeah, we can get away with washing it less – much less – but that’s a small victory considering we’ll never be mistaken for the hair model in a Pantene ad ever again.


And the va-jay-jay? What used to be accomplished in four-play now needs a ten-play (if you get my drift). Quickies just aren’t happening without a generous supply of lubricant, not to mention, enthusiasm.

It would be nice if there was a happy-medium zone in there for a decade or so, but most of the women I chat with seem to go from juicy to jerky pretty much overnight; so you’ll probably have to contend with that, too.

My suggestion? Switch up your skin care from anti-acne to anti-aging around the age of 30. I also suggest that you wash your hair less and condition it more, plus, invest in some good-quality vaginal lubricants (short-acting) and moisturizers (longer-acting).

And remember: Though your tires have a few miles on them, they still have plenty more to go.

So, enjoy the ride!

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3 Ways to Move Labor and Delivery Along

By | @askdrtania | 13 days ago


We’re talking low-risk, term labors here, people!

Going into labor is a welcomed activity after 40-odd weeks of pregnancy. Finally – the time to meet baby is here! There is some work to be done, however, which is truly why they call it labor.

If you believe what you see on TV (oh, and btw – you shouldn’t), you would think that you should rush off to the hospital right after your water breaks — which is a common misconception.

Home is where the heart is, and it should also be where you spend the better part of your labor. Being in your comfort zone is the best place for you to relax and let this natural, beautiful process unfold.

In reality, many of us never experience the quintessential ‘breaking of the waters’. Labor can indeed start without it. Labor can also start with mild cramping that builds into more frequent and more severe contractions, but that’s not the norm, either. More frequently, I hear stories of ‘false labors’ that can go on for days, or conversely, labors that come out of nowhere like a mack truck.

However yours starts, you’ll probably be there for a while.

My hope for you in your pregnancy is that “there” doesn’t involve confinement to a bed; especially when it’s on your back as this is not an ideal labor position. Baby in the uterus is heavy – heavy enough to possibly compress the blood and nerve supply to said uterus, which can stall labor. Additionally, in this position, the baby must travel uphill through the vagina. Not particularly effective.

Here are the three best ways to move labor and deliver along:

  1. Walk: The rhythmic action of your pelvis as you walk can encourage baby down into the birth canal, as well as cause the cervix to open. Gravity works, ladies! I walked for much of my first labor, until I had the urge to…

  2. …Float: Warm water is incredibly soothing during labor. If your water hasn’t broken, there is no reason why you can’t relax in a warm tub, and even give birth in it if you like. My midwives refilled the tub for me multiple times because it felt so good! I only stepped out moments before I pushed my daughter out.

  3. Get on the ball: Sitting on an exercise ball offers counterpressure against baby’s head as it presses against the cervix, which can really help move things along. Gentle rocking and bouncing also feels really good, and can help to shimmy and encourage baby down the birth canal. Alternatively, draping your body over the ball while on your hands and knees is a great way to rest, especially if you are having back labor.flowers

As labor progresses to the point where you are having trouble concentrating through contractions, and they are coming less than 2 minutes apart, you should head to your birth place. If you are home-birthing, your midwife needs to be present now. So, there you have it – 3 ways to progress labor along.

I wish you all great luck in your labors!

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Mirror Mirror

Feeling Chubby? Dress Skinny!

By | @askdrtania | 17 days ago


Step away from the stretch pants! And don’t you dare put on that mumu!

Trust me, we ALL have those days.

You know, you wake up feeling bloated. Your wobbly bits take a few more moments to stop moving after you do. Even your fingers look chubby.

Damn it.

Do not surrender to the chub, girlfriends! What I’m about to tell you, you probably aren’t going to like, but hear me out. Put on your skinny jeans and fitted shirt, pronto stat! Chances are, if you overdid it on the soy sauce or Ben and Jerry’s the night before, you’ll be feeling just a leetle-bit pinched and squeezed, so you are quite likely not to overindulge again. The simple act of putting on your skinny clothes will have you looking slimmer and acting slimmer, too.

Plus, dressing to flatter your body just looks better.

If you do take the pants – I mean path – of least resistance and reach for your yoga pants and tunic, you will e-x-p-a-n-d to fill the space. Those garments are nice and comfy, aren’t they? And no one likes to feel like a ten-pound baloney in a five-pound bag, but if you keep wearing stretch pants, you’ll soon be a TWENTY pound baloney that won’t be able to get that bag over her thighs.

Please don’t hate me.

I am a girl who loves her yoga pants, and practically lives in them because I do yoga nearly every day. But most every day at some point I put on grown-up clothes. Those clothes include some ‘barometer’ jeans. I truly don’t weigh myself, nor do I care what number the scale says or what the tag in those jeans might say (I cut it out long ago). I do know, though, that if they fit, that I’m doing something right. If they slip right up with nary a wiggle, I might indulge in a few fries at lunch. If they require a bunch of shimmy-shimmies and result in a larger-than-usual muffin-top, I’ll stick to a cleaner diet and up my workouts a bit.

These ‘barometer’ jeans keep me honest, whereas my yoga pants could probably accommodate an extra 10 or twenty pounds before I realize what hit me. I speak from experience – ‘hello, freshman fifteen twenty’ - a time I most definitely do not want to revisit.

Take my word for it. You’d much rather learn your lesson by being miserable in the short-term, than overweight in the long.

XO, lovely ladies!

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Don't be fooled, #sugar comes in many different shapes, sizes, and NAMES. #whatsinyourfood? #nutrition #health http://t.co/CljfcWRStI