Monday, September 26, 2011


Dear Pittsburgh,
I am in love with you.  You are my hometown.  You remind me of growing up, of Sunday dinners with Grandma, of capture the flag in the sweet height of summer, of my first love.  You remind me how special I am to be part of your legacy, how good it feels to bond with friends over great sports and conversation.  And it’s because I love you that I must tell you the truth:
You’re fat.
I tell you this because I am in love with you, because I want you to thrive and live and carry on the great traditions of our parents and theirs before.  But Pittsburgh, I just got back from the Giant Eagle.  And you’re fat.
I hear you in the aisles, shooting the breeze with your neighbor, blaming others for it.  You blame the economy for making quality food so expensive (while the truth is, quality food is a lot less expensive than triple bypass surgery and diabetes medication).  You stand in line at the deli and curse the heavens for only creating 24 hours in the day (because surely if there were 25, you would go to the gym).  You blame your children for taking up all of your time, thereby forcing you to pump all of your well-being energy into them and leave yourself bone dry and tired.  You even blame the Steelers for being such a damn good team that you HAVE to tailgate and drink beer and eat wings to show your Pittsburgh pride.  But the only one who is to blame, dear Pittsburgh, is YOU.  
I know you are probably getting defensive as you read this.  “She doesn’t have kids.  She’s a big shot New Yorker who left her beloved hometown behind as soon as she possibly could.”  I can hear you saying it.  And guess what, you’re right!  I don’t have kids yet.  I did leave town to pursue a career in the arts.  But I always come back.  I always do.  And I am here now, to bring you PERSPECTIVE and a slight smack on the ass.  I have a background in health and wellness.  I am a dancer and a certified fitness instructor, I am 35 years old and I look damn good.  And I am not fat.  But guess what?  I WAS.  And if it weren’t for the fact that I was planning the Baldwin High School reunion and wanted to look amazing for my Pittsburgh peeps, I might still be a size 12 instead of a Weight Watchers lifetime member.  But I made a choice.  I had something to prove.  And I am here to help you do the same.
Pittsburgh, I’m worried about you.  You are the salt of the earth, my family.  I want you to live long and feel great.  So I am challenging you to step up your game.  I am not going to try to make you all vegan like I aspire to be.  I am not going to tell you not to celebrate a Steelers victory at Primanti’s at 2am.  Because that is not my point.  I am here to tell you it’s EASY to make small changes that will prolong your life.  So for the next SEVEN weeks, here are seven minor adjustments I want you to try:
  1. IF you drink soda, switch from regular soda to diet.  If you already drink diet, switch to green tea.  You will get used to it and you can lose up to 15 pounds in a year just from making this minor adjustment.
  2. Switch from white to 100% whole wheat.  Bread, pita, pasta, all of it.  It doesn’t taste that different and you will trade in empty calories, starch and sugar for fiber, antioxidants, and 30 more nutrients.  
  3. Eliminate eating 3 hours before you go to bed.  When you eat before bed, your body has to use up all of the energy it usually uses to repair and restore your body during sleep to digest your food.  You will sleep better, if you go to bed on an empty stomach.  As my friend Ken always says, “Go to bed hungry, wake up skinny.”  Yes please!
  4.   Drink water!  It aids in digestion and keeps things moving internally... ahem.  Lubes up your system and makes your skin look sexy.  You want to aim for half of your body weight in ounces per day, so if you weigh 150 pounds, you want to go for 75 ounces of water, or about 9 8-ounce glasses a day.  An easy way to get a jump start is to drink a huge glass of water with a little lemon first thing in the morning, before your coffee, to jump start your system.  And speaking of coffee...
  5. STOP with the sugar and sugar substitutes in your coffee.  Try agave syrup or Stevia (a little goes a long way) if you need sweetener, and please throw that gross half and half in the trash.  Fat free skim milk or almond milk... much better.
  6. Move your freaking body.  ANYTHING, people.  You can fit in 100 crunches during a commercial break while you’re watching “Teen Mom”... throw on some tunes while you’re making dinner and move like Jagger.  And get out of breath.  You’re not going to die, I promise.  Do this a few times a day.  There IS time.  Bonus points if you get your kids to do this with you!
  7. And finally, do the 500 calorie countdown.  What is that, you ask?  It’s a fun little game I play with myself when I’ve been a little too indulgent, and it helps me feel better FAST!  Find 500 calories in your day that you do NOT need.  Here’s my example so far today:  I got home from the gym and tossed a Trader Joe’s dairy free/meat free burrito into the microwave.  I got out the tortilla chips to enjoy as a side because hey, it’s a theme!  Yummy.  But then I thought, NO!  I do not need to eat these chips!  I put a little soy cheese (don’t judge me) and some habanero lime salsa on top of the burrito and walked the hell away from the chips, saving me at LEAST 200 calories in mindless crunching.  Then, I headed to the Giant Eagle (the trip that inspired this whole blog).  I had to walk through the bakery, and sure enough, they were handing out free samples of some delicious looking chocolate-y cake-y thing with a piece of oreo on top.  I walked on by, kids.  Saved me at least 100 calories.  So now it’s 3pm and I have the rest of the day to bypass 200 more.  If you do this every day, you could save yourself one POUND per week.  It’s just as easy to pass on these little bites, licks, and tastes as it is to eat them without even knowing.
Please note, my dear Pittsburgh, that I’m not asking you to give up anything (except the sugar substitute).  It won’t cost you anything.  It won’t even take up more of your time.  But by the time I come back for Christmas, yinz will be feeling SO much better.  I promise.  Leave a comment below and let me know if you’re in, and I will support you!  
I love you!