Coupledom in Crisis

February 12, 2010

Today’s informal Blisstree office poll shows that most of us know at least two couples who are currently in counseling together. If you can’t quite imagine what happens during these trifecta sessions, witness resentment-filled Sean McNamara and Christian Troy with Dr. Griffin, their new therapist, in this week’s episode of the final season of Nip/Tuck on FX.

If any two souls need a mediator, it’s Sean and Christian. (Nothing like being business partners for 20 years, sleeping with each other’s wives, battling paternity issues, and secretly burying dead bodies to create a little sibling-like rivalry.)

What about you? Have you ever tried couples counseling with your partner or spouse? Did it help or hurt?


Vancouver 2010 Olympics

February 12, 2010

The 2010 Olympics are here! But does anyone really care? Is there even any snow in Vancouver? Or are they trucking it all in? (Hell, D.C., Baltimore, and Philly are currently buried in enough white stuff to easily host the XXI Winter Games.)

Don’t get me wrong: I’ll get weepy if I see athletes during the Opening Ceremonies (truth is, I probably won’t tune in); I’ll be proud of all the U.S. medal-winners; and I may even watch some of the ice dancing competition. (No apologies!)

But the real reason I’m into Olympic athletes is that I yearn to be as fit as they are — without having to get up every day at 4:30 a.m. for practice, of course.

Thankfully, cool and cute U.S. Olympic snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler shared some of her training secrets in a recent Fitness magazine Q&A.

The skinny? Non-Olympians have to do way more, and do it way more often. Figures.

Read the Q&A here.

Scary Stats

February 12, 2010

For parents, few subjects are as mystifying or controversial as autism. And this week The New York Times reported that a new study by the Autism Research journal suggests that the father’s advancing age is just as important as the mother’s in determining a child’s risk of developing autism.

It’s bad news for dads over 40, but good news for older moms who hopefully can now stop blaming themselves if their child develops this bewildering, heart-wrenching condition.

Read the article here.

Exercise Enlightenment

February 12, 2010

We’re always on the lookout for a workout regimen that yields results fast. We know from NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” that powerhouse trainers Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper require their teams to follow hard-core cardio and weight-training plans. But which one really gives you better and faster results as you age?

A trainer at my New York Sports Club gym swears that you burn more calories doing circuit weight training for 30 minutes than you do on an elliptical machine for the same amount of time. And, even better, she claims that circuit weight training causes you to continue to burn calories for 12 hours after your workout. Shock! Awe! Oreos!

Now, I’ve found plenty of supposed experts who disagree with my trainer, but I’ve decided to ditch my cardio routine (is it really exercise if you’re watching “The View”?) for a month and test out those intimidating, hulking weight machines. Our metabolism slows down as we age, so it’s more important than ever to work out super efficiently.

Care to join me? We can track our progress (and pitfalls) together.

Happy Anti-Valentine’s Day!

February 12, 2010

At Blisstree, we refuse to be held hostage by greeting card companies, candy makers, jewelry, perfume, or stuffed animals—even if it’s only once a year.

The gorgeous, bleached-toothed (and, from the looks of the trailer, two-dimensional) characters in New Line Cinema’s just-released flick “Valentine’s Day” may have love, romance, and glamour all figured out (or do they?), but we know better than to pressure ourselves and our partners into fabricating a special, perfect, romantic, Hollywood-worthy day smack in the dead of a blizzard-heavy winter.

My reality is slightly less fabulous: Our school-age kids are on winter break; we’re going on a family ski trip this weekend, and when we return there’ll be a depressing amount of laundry to do.

In the true spirit of Anti-Valentine’s Day, my husband and I will likely toast our bond in the ski lodge surrounded by throngs of screaming toddlers, bratty tweens, and sullen teenagers. (Next year I’m going to host an Anti-Superbowl party, because I don’t care about football, but do care about snacks.)

How will you celebrate Anti-Valentine’s Day? Tell us here.

The Ice Cream Cure

February 11, 2010

Vanilla ice cream typically isn’t what most moms feed their kid after he/she has spent the entire morning puking on various dry-clean-only fabrics, but that’s exactly what my good friend Liz did recently with her three-year-old daughter, Louisa, when they visited for the weekend. I immediately admonished Liz: “What kind of a mother are you?” (harsh, I know), and added a few “tsk-tsks” and raised eyebrows for good measure. (My husband and I don’t have kids yet, so of course I felt my irritating haughtiness was justified.)

After Louisa had licked the bowl clean, I anticipated her relapse by searching for towels, spit buckets, and Pedialyte (which I didn’t have). Liz confessed that she had caved to Louisa’s ice cream request to avoid a fit of mammoth proportions.

Guess what happened? Louisa’s stomach virus quickly subsided, she felt better, and didn’t throw up the rest of the weekend, much to my shock and Liz’s delight.

Luckily for me, Liz let it go. Luckily for Liz, I kept my mouth shut after that. Luckily for Louisa, we had more ice cream in the freezer.

Blisstree would love to hear your crazy/wacky/controversial cures for your kid’s minor ailments. Post your half-baked ideas here.

6 Feature Story Ideas for Blisstree

February 11, 2010

1. Yoga Primer (stunt journalism). Writer practices a different style of yoga each week (ashtanga, Bikram, vinyasa, hatha, Iyengar, Kripalu) and reports on the differences, benefits, pros, cons, history, asanas, etc. for each.

2. Aging Alert! How/when to hide it. How/when to accept it. How/when to flaunt it.

3. Metabolism Myths. All about hypo- and hyperthyroidism; the effects of age on metabolism, etc.

4. Classic, old-timey novels you really should have read by now, even though you don’t have time to read. (Jane Austen, George Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, Henry James, etc.)

5. How-To Series: your kid(s) are into musicals, acting, plays, etc. How do you encourage their talents without becoming an insufferable stage mother?

6. The Deal on Dairy. Better to drink milk or take calcium pills? Does milk really help with weight loss? Are soy/rice milks actually better for you/your digestion than regular milks?

The “No” Throwdown: A Kid’s Most Hated Word

February 11, 2010

You’re a perfect parent with perfect children. You dispense the correct amount of discipline at the exact right moments, and your offspring never, ever complain or misbehave. When your kids see a classmate having a tantrum on the playground, they ask: “Mommy, what on earth is wrong with that disturbed little boy/girl?”

Send our mini Blisstree quiz to all the imperfect moms and dads in your life who haven’t quite realized that “No” can be one of the most beautiful sounds a parent can make. (Of course, YOU don’t need to take the quiz!)

1. If you never say “No” to your children, they will grow up to be:

A. Entitled narcissists

B. Delusional narcissists

C. Plain-old narcissists

D. People who think they should be treated like royalty/celebrities

E. All of the above

2. Because your children cannot stand being told “No,” the odds of your family receiving invitations to homes without children are:

A. Very likely

B. Somewhat likely

C. Very Unlikely

D. Not so much

E. Don’t count on it

F. Both D. and E.

3. You don’t tell your children “No” because you fear this will:

A. stifle their creativity.

B. stunt their academic progress.

C. limit their future possibilities.

D. create negative energy.

E. cause an epic meltdown.

F. all of the above

4. Your friends who don’t have kids:

A. are annoyed that you never tell your kids “No.”

B. really, really want to tell your kids “No” themselves.

C. don’t like hanging out with your kids.

D. wish you would grow a spine.

E. wish you would read and heed this post.

F. all of the above

Answers: 1. E  2. F  3. F  4. F  (i.e. Probably not what you, I mean, your friends, want to hear.)

The Laboratory: A Skeptic Confronts Her Colon

February 11, 2010

To me, the word “colonic” typically makes my stomach churn with images of hospital gowns, blue enema syringes, and oral laxatives. Which is why I was intrigued when “colon therapy” started cropping up on day spa menus around the globe.

At five feet long, your colon (or large intestine) sees plenty of down-and-dirty action during your body’s daily digestive process.

Here’s the premise: Your colon is filthy and needs a good cleaning. Otherwise, toxic goo will impact itself onto the colon walls, which in turn makes it hard for the colon to do its job of eliminating toxins.

For as many holistic practitioners who believe colon therapy is a worthwhile treatment (i.e. healthy colon equals healthy body), there are plenty of traditional health care professionals who think the entire scam just stinks.

So after much hedging (and showering and shaving), I paid a visit to Sharon Stone (no, not that Sharon Stone), a colon therapist who works out of La Casa Day Spa in the Gramercy Park area of Manhattan. []

Luckily, Sharon is kind, soft-spoken, gentle, and friendly – traits I require in the person who inserts a disposable tube up my behind while I lie on an exam table in a paper gown pretending to study the colon therapy wall chart.

The next hour involved a not unpleasant trickle of warm, filtered water slowly entering my body through the tube in order to flush out years of debris into a special underground waste receptacle. Sharon is also a licensed massage therapist, which became apparent when she skillfully and repeatedly pressed down on my stomach with her hands to get things moving, so to speak.

For me, peristalsis was the only weird part: you’re overcome by the feeling of having to go #2, but instead of using the toilet like a normal person, you release through the tube while Sharon offers you a hand mirror to watch the spectacle. Even weirder, you accept.

I asked Sharon if in our session we had tackled recent indiscretions (pulled-pork sandwiches, milkshakes) as well as long-ago misdeeds (Hostess cupcakes, Chef Boy-ar-dee beef ravioli). She claimed she can spiff up the length of an average person’s colon in one visit.

In the end, I was out $90 and perhaps an ounce or two of dignity, but I actually did feel lighter, better, and less sluggish. So, it made perfect sense to treat myself to a cheeseburger.

Guilty Pleasure: Boozin’ All By Yourself

February 11, 2010

A pint of Vanilla Swiss Almond. Three DVR’d episodes of Real Housewives. Pie for breakfast. All are respectable-enough guilty pleasures, but compared to mixing yourself a stiff cocktail on a random weeknight, they lack a certain punch.

Sure, your GP might frown on exceeding your weekly alcohol quota; your personal trainer might balk at the empty calories; and your friends may suggest AA meetings, but for me there’s no better way to decompress after work than exactly the way everyone tells you not to: drinking alone.

I’m not talking Miss Lonelyhearts mired in a scotch-soaked sadness at the corner dive bar. (But hey, no judgments!) I mean you, free of husband, kids, and responsibilities for the evening, pouring a flute of cava (around 165 calories), mixing a Manhattan (around 185 calories), or blending a frozen margarita (around 250 calories) [], and savoring as many as you damn well please while doing whatever the hell you want.

The mid-week cocktail pairs well with bubble baths, chick flicks, and Facebook-status-updating, but also will happily intoxicate you on its own.

One of my sister’s periodic guilty pleasures is baking a pan of brownies and essentially eating the entire thing herself in a day or two (her husband and kids never stand a chance), which might be okay only because she’s a serious runner.

Is it wrong to sip solo? Probably. But does it delight me during the week? Absolutely. (next up: vodka martini!)

Not to play guilty-pleasure favorites, but my sis can keep her 2,000 + calorie tray of brownies. If it’s Tuesday, I’m ready for another round.