Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Toil-ettiquette: Keep it Clean

Ladies, I’ve spent three days on the road and after visiting countless public restrooms in airports, hotels, and restaurants, I consider it my civic duty to entreat you:

Please leave the toilet seat cleaner than you found it!

I’ve followed elegant women into bathroom stalls only to be horrified by the state of the seat. If you choose not to sit on it, fine, proceed with your hygienic hover-squat. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to pee all over the seat and leave it in a disgusting drippy state for the next visitor - even if you found it a bit damp to begin with. Let's break the cycle.

If we all commit to leaving a clean seat, imagine how much more pleasant our lives will be. I, for one, am urine-ing for the day. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

NYC Style This Weekend: What They Wore, What's in Stores

Here’s what the cool chicks were wearing in New York City this beautiful April weekend:

Shrunken trench coats. I packed a lightweight trench, but mine was knee-length, which seemed hopelessly out of style and voluminous compared to the cute short belted trenches I saw on girls and women all over Midtown. A practical layer for the changeable weather.
image from Burberry.com
These are $125 at J. Crew

Dark, skinny, cropped jeans – Manhattan women of all ages are enviably slim, and these dark body-hugging jeans looked very flattering on their tiny thighs, but I’d say this look is not for everyone. However, the length was fresh and modern – just grazing the anklebone in a kind of sweetly sexy way.

Corso Como flat $59, Nordstrom
Ballet flats – forget stilettos, New Yorkers walk. The footwear of choice was chic but practical ballet flats without too much adornment. (Sorry Tory Burch.)

And here’s what I saw in stores:

Bright Sorbet Colors and Florals
I only had a few hours to shop, but the displays in stores were dazzling. I spotted only a few women actually wearing these eye-popping hues and garden inspired fabrics, but they were everywhere in stores.

From Bloomingdales, who had a big 30% off sale this weekend…

Ted Baker display at Bloomindales.

…to the very cool and cheap Joe Fresh and Uniqlo  – my daughter Emma would love these stores! 

Lollipop color at Joe Fresh
Trend combo: ballet flats + color at Joe Fresh
Uniqlo NYC

If you’ve had a hankering to wear pink and turquoise and mix it up with some crazy poppy print, this is the season for you. I’ve never seen such girly frippery. After a long gray Chicago winter, it makes me happy.

That said, I didn’t buy anything candy-colored or flowery. But I did pick up this Red Haute floaty zebra patterned blouse at Bloomingdale’s for 30% off, which I intend to wear over a silky, comfy black tank I picked up at Uniqlo for 12 bucks. I think it would look great with the ballet flats and dark jeans don’t you?

I look just like this.
Pic from bloomingdales.com
I’d love to know, what are you looking forward to wearing this spring?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

For Great Sex: Deal with Differences in Desire

My most recent Sex & the Suburbs column for MakeitBetter.net discusses how men and women can deal with the differences in their desire. Men and women get turned on very differently, which can often lead to hurt feelings, misunderstandings and resentments, even though it's no one's fault - it's just biology, damn it!
"When men and women understand how differently they become aroused, they can make changes to accommodate each other so they both enjoy sex more. Here are some empowering strategies to negotiate the differences in desire in your relationship."
Based on an enlightening conversation with sex therapist Emily Harrell, my column provides advice so that both partners can feel fulfilled. The first tip? Stop treating sex as a yes or no proposition. Instead, make time to fool around (cuddle, make out, massage) without a specific goal in mind. It takes the pressure off and opens doors to greater exploration and arousal.When both partners are relaxed and intimate, who knows what might develop?

Image courtesy of
Read the rest of the tips at over at Make it Better and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

10 Weight Loss Tips that Work for Me

I'm fascinated by what people eat and how people manage their weight, aren't you? I've learned that almost no one is naturally thin. I'm certainly not, but turning 50 along with major hormonal changes was a wake up call, so I've changed my habits and am slowly losing weight. Yesterday, I detailed my simple, 5-step, slow-but-sure, weight loss plan.  As a refresher, the basic structure is:

  • Keep a food journal and record the calories of the foods you eat.
  • Set a reasonable reduced daily calorie goal and stick to it.
  • Eat all the fruits and veggies you want - they're free!
  • Record your weight weekly.
  • Take one day off a week and enjoy yourself.

Restaurants like Noodles & Co let you
make informed decisions. 
Simple right? Here are a few tips to staying the course that have worked for me.
  1. Be consistent and accurate with the food journal. I know if I'm not writing it down, I'm eating too much.
  2. Have a plan for your day so you don't have to keep thinking about it. With my 1400 calorie goal (yours might be different) I shoot for a 300 calorie breakfast, a 400 calorie lunch, and a 400 calorie dinner - which leaves me with 300 calories for a snack and a glass of wine. 
  3. It's okay to feel hungry. I was actually afraid to feel hunger, but we shouldn't always feel stuffed or even satisfied. Feeling a little bit empty means you're eating less, and that means the plan is working. 
  4. Postpone gratification. If you feel uncomfortable between meals, try this. Have a cup of tea or a glass of sparkling water with lemon. Ravenous? Eat a piece of fruit or some raw veggies.  Still hungry? Pop a breath mint or some gum or brush your teeth. Now you're hydrated, healthy, have fresh breath, and closer to mealtime!
  5. Satisfy cravings with a little bit of something delicious. You can eat any food you want when you pay attention to portion sizes. If you're obsessing about chocolate, two Hershey Special Dark Chocolate Kisses are just 42 calories. 
  6. When dining out, head to places like Panera or Noodles & Co which have calories posted on their menu. Or check out a restaurant's nutrition info online in advance. 
  7. When in doubt, order soup. It's almost always the lowest calorie option. 
  8. Go to bed early. Sleep is a huge component of weight loss. Instead of hanging out in front of the TV or computer, head upstairs and take a bath, read a book, wash your face. You'll feel beautiful and rested and avoid all those late night calories.
  9. When I goof up or lose focus, I don't feel guilty or beat myself up. I'm a grown woman, doing this for me, and it's not a competition. I just pull out my pencil and food journal and start the next day fresh. 
  10. Don't expect miraculous results. This is not a crash diet or a cleanse (both of which sound horrid.) It's a longterm plan to drop up to a pound a week without suffering - and hopefully, for good!
Would love to hear what works for you!

Monday, April 22, 2013

My Turning 50 Weight Loss Plan - Slow but Sure

No suffering here, and lots of freebies.
Motivated by turning 50 and my ever-expanding Jigglypuff (belly fat),  I've changed my eating habits over the last twelve weeks. And, ta-dah! I've officially lost 6.5 pounds.

This isn't exactly miraculous progress - about a half pound a week - but when you consider I cheat big-time every weekend and had a very decadent week in Florida for Spring Break, it's not all bad.  I'm not at my goal weight yet, but I'll get there, slowly but surely. Because my self-devised plan works.

And now, I'll share it with you, in five easy steps.
  1.  Keep a food journal and track calories for a few days to see what you're actually eating. Be honest - account for everything you eat. The journal can be as simple as a notebook or a piece of paper. There are a lot of fancy apps out there, but I think the simpler the better. Read the package's nutrition info or use google to determine the calorie content of your foods.
  2. Set a daily calorie goal that's about 500-700 calories less than what you normally consume, but don't go under 1200 calories or you'll feel deprived and turn into a cranky, ravenous bitch. There are no food restrictions, the only requirement is that you honestly keep track of the calories. You'll soon find out which foods are worth their calories to you. My daily goal is 1400, and I can be quite satisfied with that, especially because.....
  3. Fruits and Vegetables are free! Eat as many as you like. This doesn't include starchy veggies like potatoes and corn, and you do need to count whatever you add to them, but otherwise go for it. I borrowed this rule from Weight Watchers, and it's a comfort to know you can always eat something.
  4.  Record your weekly progress. I weigh myself almost every day - it keeps me honest - but Saturday is my official weigh-in day. Don't get freaked out if your progress is slow, just keep it up. If you stall out for a few weeks, you may need to do some tweaking, but in the meantime, have faith.
  5. Take one day a week off, relax and enjoy your food guilt-free. For me, that's Saturday, after my weigh in. Knowing this splurge day is coming helps me make good choices during the week. And I hate to be too rigid about things.
That's it. I exercise when I can, but I don't consider that part of the program. Exercise is energizing and good for your body in many ways, but according to my personal experience (and many experts) weight loss is almost entirely about diet - and sleep!

I do think it's easier to stick to this plan when you're doing it with a friend. My husband and I are doing it together and he's lost about eight pounds (his daily calorie goal is around 2000), and he is looking seriously good! Shedding just a few pounds feels great and does wonders for your confidence and self image.

So join me! Or at least check back tomorrow when I'll share a few tips to staying the course. And now, I'm off to eat an apple.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Go Blue! And NLU!

I'm a proud graduate of the University of Michigan and I'm even prouder now that my son Nick is a freshman there and swims for their #1 ranked Men's Swimming & Diving team - Go Blue! It has meant so much to me to spend time back in Ann Arbor, hang out on campus, and have a front row view of the outstanding Michigan sports program.

College at Michigan was a thrill. I loved my dorm, my sorority, the town, the football games, the school spirit. My business degree helped me land a great first job at a prestigious corporation and I was prepared for life in the real world. It was all good.

Me, circa 2008
Image courtesy of National-Louis
Then, in my early 40s, I went to back to graduate school. In many ways, my education in the Written Communication Program at National Louis University was better than my undergraduate experience. Here are ten reasons why.

1.  The program offered exactly what I wanted to study. 
In my twenties I had no idea what I wanted to do. In my 40s, I knew I wanted to become a writer. NLU offered a program that covered all the disciplines of professional writing - fiction, screenplays, feature writing, journalism - as well as fundamentals such as expository writing and editing.

2. The school was close and convenient and I could go at my own pace.
I had two small children and a husband who traveled. I relished the fact I could take evening classes  once a week in a nearby location and take a semester off if I needed to.

3. The classes were small, personal, and hands on.
At Michigan, some of my lectures had hundreds of students. No one knew or cared if I attended. At NLU my classes ranged from 6 -18 people. We all knew the professor and one another, and a good portion of the class time was participative. We shared and discussed our work in class.

4. The instructors weren't just professors - they were professionals.
All of my professors were working successfully in their chosen fields. For example, my Young Adult Fiction class was taught by Laurie Lawlor, who has published dozens of young adult fiction books. My instructors were doing the work I wanted to do, not just teaching it.

5. My coursework focused on real world application rather than theory or research. 
We didn't learn the theory or history of writing; we studied the craft. We learned how to write so we could sell our work and earn money.

6. I formed connections with fellow students.
Soon after I earned my degree, I joined a group of NLU alums to collaborate on a self-published anthology of pet stories. Check me out on Amazon! Two of the stories in our book Heavy Petting are mine.

7. The faculty was personally committed to my success and remains so.
I cannot say enough about Dr. Joanne Koch, the head of the Written Communication department and my advisor. She spent countless hours helping me develop and refine this blog, which began as my thesis project. She remains a valued resource to this day, as does Patty Tennison, who runs the simply amazing Paris Cafe Writing program I attended in December. I feel badly that can't even remember the names of my former U-M profs.

8. My thesis project got me the work I wanted.
I'd never have got my True/Slant writing job or become a columnist at Make it Better if it hadn't been for Forty Fabulous!

9. NLU put me in one of their print ads.
See above. I was featured in a calendar too. How fun is that?

10. I grew up.
I gave more of myself to my graduate classes because I was a mature student and eager to learn. Plus I was paying my own tuition. Making a personal investment made me more committed to my education and I was surrounded by students doing the same.

The University of Michigan is a fantastic place with many opportunities I wish I'd been savvy enough to take advantage of back in the day. (You better go to class, Nick Killeen!) And trust me, my heart will always beat true blue. But a big-time university isn't the only choice when it comes to getting the education you want. National Louis was the school with the perfect program at the right time of life for me.

Go Blue! And Go NLU!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Men and Women get Turned On Differently

Poster image from Amazon.com
Sometimes a picture really is worth a 1000 words. I showed this poster from Amazon to my all-female audience at my Sex & the Suburbs show on Thursday, and again when addressing a men's group over the weekend. The response was the same for both - first a laugh, then a sigh of recognition and relief.

That's why it takes so much longer for me to get turned on than him, think the women.

That's why she doesn't want sex as readily as I do and is so much harder to figure out, think the men.

Hey, they both think, we're just wired differently - this isn't my fault!

Nope, nobody's at fault here. It's just plain old biology that gives men quicker access to their desire and a relatively straightforward way to satisfy it, while women need time and stimuli to get fired up and achieve pleasure through a wide and sometimes elusive range of experiences.

Can I get the instruction manual for this? One man joked.

Sorry, I laughed, there isn't one; every woman is unique. But just knowing this difference exists and allowing more time to explore and learn from each other is a great first step!