Author Archives for sgelman

About sgelman

I am a twentysomething NYC gal who has a passion for health and nutrition!

Fighting the “Love Pudge”

Hello my dear readers.  I know it’s been a WHILE since my last post.  It’s been a busy summer — what with undergoing surgery, my sister’s graduation, my brother’s marriage and then my own wedding in August!  Phew!!  I could say that newlywed bliss is what was keeping me from blogging, but the truth is that I just wasn’t feeling as inspired.  But now that the semester has begun again at grad school I’m feeling reinvigorated to write and share all the amazing things I’ve been learning.Image

But first, let me share a little story with you.  A couple days ago, I was walking back to my apartment when I ran into an old friend.  We were chitchatting and she shared with me that she had recently gone on Weight Watchers.  After moving in with her longtime boyfriend, she had unintentionally put on a little weight.  While I applaud my friend for using Weight Watchers – which I consider one of the best “diets” that is one the market (I don’t even really think I consider it a diet because the program teaches people to adapt a healthy lifestyle) – her problem is not an uncommon one.  This predicament is something that I like to refer to as “love pudge”.

According to an expert at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, it’s common for newlyweds to gain up to 10 lbs after tying the knot.  So what gives?  Why do newylweds or even people that have recently moved in together put on weight?  While I can’t speak for everyone, after D and I first moved in together 2 years ago, I definitely experienced the “love pudge” phenomenon.  While I could be perfectly happy with a big salad or veggie stir fry for dinner, D’s go-to dinner is 1 lb of pasta with 1 lb of chicken served up with lots of veggies and spinach.  Preferably eaten in a bowl resting on his stomach while he watches music documentaries on Gene Simmons or Monday night football.  Super healthy of course for him, but not the best for me.  After a couple months of “love pudge” – I decided to take matters into my own hands and establish some ground rules that we both could live with!  As a side note – these suggestions can be used by anyone trying to cohabit healthily, obviously not just for weight loss!

1)  Make meals that you both can eat.  D and I have perfected the art of making meals we both can enjoy.  This often involves separating the carbs from the rest of the dish (I have an insulin sensitivity so I watch my carbs, esp at night).  For example, we’ll make everything that goes in a pasta – sauce, veggies, chicken – and I put it over arugula or spinach while D puts it on pasta.  Or we make a grilled fish with roasted veggies and D will make couscous or brown rice on the side.  We both enjoy something healthy but make it work for our respective dietary needs!

2)  Hide the snacks!  D loves a good chip or cookie and who can blame him!  While he doesn’t eat them all the time, who am I to ban them from the house??…  So instead of trashing the stuff, D and I devised a system where D puts all his “goodies” on the topmost shelf, making it literally impossible for me to reach them without dragging out a stepstool.  Out of sight, out of mind, out of my stomach!

3) Team Up.  Be each other’s workout buddy.  Go for a run, go to the gym together or even take a walk after dinner.  Not only does this allow for some good old fashioned bonding time, it will help keep you both in shape!  I can’t tell you how many hot yoga or soulcycle classes I’ve dragged D to, sometimes willingly, sometimes not-so-willingly.  Having D in the room with me makes me push myself that much harder – because I know he’s watching!

4) Hold the takeout.  New York City and takeout food is pretty synonymous.  But many studies show that restaurant food is known for added fat and HUGE portions.  While I do enjoy a good slice every now and then, generally I find takeout food pretty hard to resist.  When D is getting a pad thai craving, he orders his food when I’m not around (traveling, class, etc…).  Having discipline is one thing, torturing myself is quite another!

Hope you all have a lovely week!  For those of you fasting for Yom Kippur tonight, I wish you a very easy fast!  Keep checking back this week for another post from a guest blogger…..

xoxo GS

Summer travel SURVIVAL GUIDE


Memorial Day has come and gone and summer is officially here!  And while all the health mags I’ve been reading assume that we are all in bikini shape– I don’t know about you – but I’m still working on it!  For me, when I think about summer, I think about fun mini “vacations” that D and I take to get out of steamy, muggy NYC.  But traveling poses a unique type of dilemma when you’re trying to stay fit and healthy.  Being out of your home environment makes it a lot more difficult to control where you get your next meal from – and if the greasy spoon is your only option on the road…well the name says it all doesn’t it?  Also, long hours in a car or bus doesn’t lend itself to getting in some good old exercise.

Believe it or not, it is possible to completely ace your weekend travel plans on the health front.  Here’s the answer: PREPARE!  I cannot stress this word enough – and it is in fact a tenet of my general healthy philosophy – that being prepared is the best way to ensure that you are putting the highest quality fuel in your tank.

So without any further ado, here are my top suggestions for how to be prepared and stay healthy while traveling:

  • Pack a snack.  You know how your mom used to carry snacks in her purse for you when you were a toddler – she was on the right track to keeping you healthy!  If you’re in the car – pack some healthy goodies in a cooler – a couple greek yogurts, apples, raw veggies with hummus.  I’ve been known to pack a salad with me to bring on an airplane (I promise you it tastes SO much better than the dreck they call airplane food).  Additionally, if you are stranded with no healthy options for your next meal – a couple snacks can turn into a quick mini-meal in a flash.
  • Scout out your location.  Many hotels these days have fitness centers or deals with local gyms.  If not, I’ve been to many hotels where they are happy to point out great running loops (all you need to pack is a pair of sneakers!).  Some of my best memories from traveling are when I went running through a new city – it’s a great way to explore and get your bearings.  Additionally, check out the restaurant scene – are there any great, local, organic spots?  Not only is this a chance to get your greens in – you can get a good flavor of the city you’re in.
  • Drink up.  No, not booze!  Staying hydrated with water is crucial when you’re traveling.  Not only is traveling dehydrating to your system – dehydration is often mistaken for hunger, which can cause you to overeat.  Also make sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables – whose water and fiber content can help keep you full.
  • Speak up.  When you’re traveling – especially if you’re visiting family or traveling with friends – I find that it’s really helpful to make your voice heard when it comes to health.  Let your travel partners know that you want to be active – even invite them on a run with you!  Let them know that the burger joint they may have picked for dinner doesn’t really have a lot of options for you (although you can find a salad or veggie burger in the oddest of places!).  You’d be surprised by how many friends/family are your health allies in this and have similar goals in mind!  Remember that ultimately, the best advocate for your own health is yourself.

Bon voyage!!

Chicken soup for the busy soul

I knew on Sunday it was going to be one of those weeks.  You know the type –  the kind that fly by, with a million and one things to do and not enough time to do it in.  By today, my “to-do” list is already full of things yet undone, only to be replaced by other tasks.  If cloning were an option I would seriously consider it.

One of the main tenets of my “healthy philosophy” is that you have to be prepared.  So when I know that my week coming is up is going to be insane – I try to cook up a bunch of easily zappable dishes that I don’t have to worry about cooking during the week.  One of dishes on rotation is vegetable soup.  In fact everytime I make it, D gets very excited.  It is truly delicious – and like all good soups, gets better each day – especially topped with a little parmesan and a good piece of wheat bread on the side.  Nothing like a big bowl of health to start the week of right.  Here’s what I do:

I take 2 big boxes of low sodium chicken broth (or veggie broth depending on my mood).  I use up all the veggies I have on hand, throw some garlic powder, lemon juice and a little almond milk in to make it more “creamy” and salt and pepper and let the veggies simmer for about 40 minutes.  I then puree the whole batch and…  Voila – a delish lunch or dinner!

But last Sunday I wanted to find a way to shake things up a bit, and was just craving chicken soup.  Chicken soup is a perennial favorite of mine, especially when I’m feeling under the weather.  In fact, researchers at the University of Nebraska have found that chicken soup may help reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms. Chicken meat also has antiviral properties.  But beyond it’s scientifically proven effects, it’s just good old fashioned comfort food.  So I was perusing my grocery store for some chicken soup that wasn’t full of sodium – which is surprisingly difficult!  Most of the stuff I found had questionable ingredients and 800 plus mg of sodium per cup!  That’s almost half the amount of sodium you should eat per day.  So I decided rather than taking my chances on the bottled stuff (and potentially swelling up like a balloon in the process!), I was going to make it.  But needless to say, I’m not Julia Child.  I do not have time to roast a chicken, make homemade chicken stock from its bones and decorate the whole things with rosemary sprigs.  So I took the easy way out and here is my recipe!

Chicken Soup for the busy soul:

(adapted from Tracy Anderson 30 Day Method Chicken Protein Soup)

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped celery

1/2 chopped onions

4 oz boneless chicken breast, cubed

4 cups low sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup chopped broccoli florets

1/2 chopped zucchini

1/4 chopped parsley

1 pinch garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

Simmer the carrots, celery, and chicken in the stock for 20 minutes.  Add the broccoli and zucchini for another 10 minutes.  Add parsley, garlic powder, and salt.  Eat it up!

What my birthday means to me

Hey guys – it’s GS here.  I know it’s been a while but I promise I have a good excuse.  Perhaps it was because I felt like I couldn’t write – that the things I was going through just couldn’t be put to ink because it made it feel TOO REAL.  But here I am, on my 25th birthday, feeling like I finally am ready to reflect.

4 weeks ago I had to undergo abdominal surgery.  Without going into too much details, the surgery was very necessary, very sudden, and very scary.  I had to stop my life – defer grad school, defer wedding planning, and just STOP.  And for someone like me, who is always go go go, this was tough.  Not only was I going through a major health crisis, my body had been experiencing unexpected and unwanted changes.  I had gained significant weight, felt lousy all the time, had no interest in food – I just felt like I wasn’t myself.  The surgery would not only leave me with a big scar from my breastbone to my belly button, but came with a 6 week recovery period.  And all of this was happening four months before my wedding!  Oy.

Why am I writing this?  Because we all spend SO much time (myself included) being vain about our bodies.  We look at the outside as the ideal – being thin and fit.  But going through this experience has given me a new and much more valuable outlook.  I don’t just appreciate my looks – I have a newfound appreciation for what’s on the inside (literally!).  I APPRECIATE WHAT MY BODY CAN DO. I appreciate that my surgery took half the time as expected because I was so fit.  I appreciate that a week after surgery I was able to walk on the treadmill (an old lady walk mind you, but a walk all the same!).  I appreciate that two days ago I started to run again.  I appreciate that my body has healed itself so rapidly and I even appreciate that new scar – a scar that I will ROCK for the rest of my life as a badge of honor – as a sign that I am a warrior and can conquer anything.

So what do I wish to impart to you?  Tomorrow morning when you look in the mirror, do me a favor.  Instead of nitpicking every little perceived flaw, take a good hard look.  Appreciate yourself.  Be grateful for the amazing things your body can do.  Because without, you’re nothing.

Snotty-nosed nutrition

Sunday night I couldn’t stop sneezing – and Monday I woke up and felt like my head was a balloon attached to the leaking faucet that was my nose.  Attractive?  Absolutely!

But while I am recuperating I thought I’d do a little research – what are foods that help you when you’re sick, and how can you eat to avoid feeling like this (i.e. like poop).  D adds – and talking like a martian.

So what do you eat if you’re already sick??

If you’re like me and can’t taste much – this may be a struggle, but first and foremost – WATER WATER WATER.  Lemon and hot water is a particular fave – with a dash of honey if your throat hurts (the perfect trifecta if you ask me!).  Honey has antioxidant properties – basically it battle mean little free radicals in your body that damage your cells.  Tea is also great – and contains antibacterial properties that help fight viruses.  Garlic doesn’t just ward off vampires (see clip for evidence) – it can help battle your cold as well.  It’s phytochemicals fight bacteria and have anti-cancer properties to boot!  Try throwing some garlic into homemade chicken soup – the ultimate cold comfort food.  Finally, mushrooms contain beta-glucans, which can strengthen your body’s immune system to fight the cold.

Ok so you’re not sick…but this is the season, so what do you eat to avoid the sniffles?

You know I love the stuff – so it makes me quite pleased to say that yogurt can fight off disease – the active cultures in yogurt protect your gut from germs that cause colds!  Some studies have found that eating a serving of yogurt a day is better than taking immunity-boosting pills.  Grab your sushi – Fish contains selenium, a compound that helps your body produce proteins that flush out flu bacterias from the body.  Oats and barley don’t just make a totally satisfying breakfast on a cold morning, they also contain beta-glucans (the same compound found in mushrooms), compounds that have antibacterial properties.  Our final immunity boosting food is beef!  Beef provides a hearty source of zinc – a vitamin that is crucial to forming white blood cells, cells that fight off bacterial invaders.  If you’re not a red meat fan(like me), other great sources are oysters, poultry, milk and yogurt.

Needless to say, the ultimate best way to stay healthy is to get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat a healthy, colorful diet.  Now back to blowing my nose…..

Ditch your new year’s resolution

January at the gym sucks.  Every year around this time, the gym gets packed with newly-minted gymrats, each trying to fulfill their respective New Year’s resolutions to lighten up and get back in shape.  Suddenly, there’s a line to get on a treadmill…  Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that more people are getting in shape and getting exercise, but in my experience, come February, the gym is back to its usual capacity.

As I see it, the problem with New Year’s Resolutions is that 9 times out of 10, they just don’t stick.  In fact, some researchers have found that 80% of New Years Resolutions fail.  And what’s worse, that sense of failure at achieving health goals may be more harmful than the initial resolution, causing people to slip back even further into behaviors that are damaging to your health.

So what’s a motivated gal to do this time of year?  I say don’t “resolve” to get healthy, as Nike famously put it…JUST DO IT!  Set reasonable, achievable goals for yourself with these simple pieces of advice:

  1. Get specific.  The perfect goal isn’t “I’m going to workout more” or “I’m going to stop eating chocolate cake”.  Those aren’t achievable or realistic (and a little chocolate cake every once in a while isn’t a bad thing!).  Instead, set a goal like ” I will workout for 30 minutes, 4 times a week” and schedule it in your planner like a date or a doctor’s appointment.  Instead of setting a negative resolution like not eating a fattening food, make a positive goal such as ” I will eat three servings of green or veggies a day”.
  2. Track your progress.  Whether your goal is weight loss or running a 5k, tracking your progress as you go along helps you keep your eye on the prize while celebrating how far you’ve come.  When I was training for the marathon, I kept track of the miles I ran each week – and can honestly say that it was an awesome feeling seeing those numbers go up every week!
  3. BUDDY UP.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – enlisting a likeminded healthy buddy is one of the best ways to get more accountable and get some much needed support.  Whether it’s someone to go to spinning class with instead of happy hour, or a bring-your-lunch to work date, enlisting a friend is a great way to stick to your goals and have a little fun while doing it!
  4. PREPARE TO FAIL (a little).  So this may seem a little counterintuitive – the whole point of having a goal is that you don’t want to fail at it!  But the truth is that we are all human, and we aren’t perfect.  The people who really stick to their goals aren’t the ones that have steely discipline, but are those that know how to dust themselves off and get back on the horse they’ve fallen off.  This may be as simple as having a plan if you go overboard in the pizza/beer department one night (drink plenty of water, workout an extra twenty minutes the next day, etc..) or just not letting it get to you and  jumping right back into the swing of being healthy!

So here’s to 2012 – may this be the year that you relish in your gorgeous, healthy, balanced, Gothamskinny selves!

Getting off sugar – an addict’s tale…

After a brief hiatus, I’m back to blogging – but more importantly I have a story to tell….

There was a woman.  This woman was very healthy – she ran, she spinned, she strength trained — she worked out practically every day (except her weekly rest day of course!).  She ate plenty of greens and lean protein and whole grains and always asked for her salad dressing on the side – she was practically angelic in her good choices.  But at night, she morphed into her evil twin – the Dr Jekyll to her Mr Hyde.  This evil twin was determined to undo all her hard work.  This evil twin would make an appearance especially when she had had one too many drinks, or if she was stressed, or even if she was just bored.  This evil twin would raid the refrigerator looking for anything sugar — chocolate chips, bites of cookie dough ice cream, peanut butter cookies – pretty much whatever sweet fix she could get her dirty little paws on.

Sound familiar?  Many of us, myself included, find sugary foods very hard to resist.  And it’s understandable — the daily pressures of life and work are hard enough without sugar confronting us at every turn – in the deli food counter, in your local coffeeshop, and even at your Farmer’s market.  And the literature is only increasing on the addictive powers of sugar.  In Bordeaux, France, Dr. Serge Ahmed, is in the process of completing a study with rats.  Given the choice between sugar and cocaine – guess what those rats choose every time?  Shockingly…SUGAR.  Scientists hypothesize that sugar, produces dopamine in the brain, which is the “feel good” chemical – the same chemical that is released when you experience orgasm or do hard drugs.  When people eat sugar, they feel a temporary “high”, and when this high disappears, they need more.

So how do you break this cycle?  Here are some tried and true tips that have helped me

  1. Enlist a friend.  While a mild sugar addiction is hardly as debilitating as a drug or alcohol addiction, it never hurts to get a little extra moral support.  Tell a close friend or a significant other that this is something you’re working on.  Having another person on your side and prying your hand away from the office cookies can be a great thing.
  2. Clean house.  As I always say – if it’s not there you won’t eat it.  Take all the tempting sweets that are in your pantry, refrigerator etc… and dump them!  Yes – it may seem wasteful, but most of these foods offer no nutritional value to you, and it is more wasteful in your diet than in your trash.  If you live with someone else who wants to eat his/her junk, ask them politely to place these foods on higher shelves – so that you aren’t confronted with them every time you go to take out food.
  3. Find a sugar stand-in.  We don’t live in a vacuum and chances are that even with the best of intentions – you are still going to find yourself craving sugar the first couple of days away from the stuff.  Make sure to stock up some delicious seasonal fruit from your local grocery store or farmer’s market.  One of my favorite healthy treats is to zap apple slices in the microwave with a little cinnamon and a drizzle of agave nectar for a sweet, but not cloying, baked apple.  Dried fruit also works well – dates are my personal fave – by limit the portion to two or three pieces to keep calories in check.
  4. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.  Ok – so you were good all week and then you had a couple of cookies – or five.  You feel like you’ve let yourself down and you’ve failed – but before you decide to reach back in and finish the box – give yourself a break!  Nobody is perfect, and I am not suggesting that you deprive yourself of goodies every now and then.  Rather than getting down on yourself for this temporary setback – view it as an opportunity to recommit to yourself.  Every meal is a new opportunity to be healthier, stronger, and more beautiful.  So show yourself a little love and treat your body right – because it’s the only one you’ve got!

“Try something new” SUNDAY

Happy Sunday!

I must admit – I hate Sundays.  Ever since I was little, Sunday always made me feel kind of down – a “case of the blahs” if you will.  It meant that school/work was in front of me, and the carefree, relaxing weekend was behind.  And while the idea of wearing my PJs to work on Monday might make me feel infinitely better – it wasn’t a very good solution to my problem.

So today I decided to start a little tradition that will shake up my Sundays.  Something revolutionary.  Something groundbreaking.

I now introduce to you…..“Try Something New” Sundays.

What is this craziness that I talk about?  Starting now, every Sunday I am going to try something new.  Whether it be that boxing class at the gym that I keep saying I’ll do, but then don’t have the time, to renting bikes and riding up and down the Westside Highway, to trying out that new sushi place around the corner.  The only rule is that the “new” thing has to be be active or healthy in some way (i.e.sitting on the couch watching Millionaire Matchmaker reruns does not count).  After all, all those endorphins I build up should help with my bad mood and set me up for feeling refreshed and ready to power through the next week.  Plus, physical activity that is different from the norm tests your muscles in new ways and gets you out of your workout rut – helping you score a more rockin bod and outlook.

So I challenge you to take on “Try Something New” Sundays with me.  Who knows…shaking up your routine might just shake up your attitude!

I’m a celebrity…now follow my diet!

I was perusing the Health section of my New York Times lately, and came across this article on celebrities who diet.  In the article, it describes the recent uptick in celebrity diet sponsors.  It’s understandable that diet companies would want to use celebrities, the article states, because people feel like they “know” them and can relate.  And honestly, don’t tell me you don’t know the names of Brangelina’s kids or that Kim Kardashian is getting married in August!  I for one must admit that I probably read “People” and “Us Weekly” more than the paper.

For many celebrities who are under the spotlight all the time to be thin, what better press than to lose weight in the public eye?  Right?  Not so quick – the article also describes the fabulous dieting failures of people like Kirstie Alley, who after flaunting her body in a bikini on Oprah, only gained all the weight back plus some a couple months later.  What happens when some of these celebrities fail publicly, and how does it affect not only their image, but the image of the brand they represent?

I also can’t help but think, how do these celebrities impact normal people’s efforts at losing weight and staying healthy?  I look at people like Jennifer Hudson, who lost over 80 pounds on Weight Watchers, and feel very inspired by her story and her authenticity about her struggle with weight and subsequent success.  That story feels a lot more legitimate than that of Kirstie Alley, who seems to be using her yo-yoing weight gain and loss as means for publicity, rather than simply trying to get healthier.  I also feel like many of these celebrities set unrealistic examples for normal folk looking to lose a couple – in essence they make it seem so damned easy!  I think it often makes people feel inadequate when they don’t have similar success on these diets.

Which leads me to my main point – “diets” in the traditional sense don’t work.  The idea of dieting is of deprivation, about not eating what you want for a short period of time.  But in reality, being healthy (and losing weight in the process if you need to) is about changing your lifestyle and developing habits that are sustainable FOREVER.  Whether it be swapping all your breads to whole grain varieties, or getting a handle on proper portion sizes, these changes are about being healthy and fueling your body in the long run.  And being consistent with your changes!  Getting your meals delivered to you isn’t a sustainable option in the long run, but learning to cook a basic healthy meals is.  So before you waste another penny on diets…consider this – will you actually stick with it in the long run?  Or is it a better use of your money to buy a healthy cookbook and a bag full of fresh produce instead?

Hot and bothered


Yesterday was 90, today is 96, tomorrow is 100?  Yea I know it’s summer but does it have to burn quite so much?  Frankly, when the weather gets hot, my body feels much different – my energy is sapped, I get cranky, and my appetite?  Nonexistent.  Considering how much I like to eat, this is never a good thing in my book.  So here are my nutrition-related remedies for perking yourself up and withstanding the hot weather without feeling weighed down.

  1. Lemon water.  When the weather gets hot, I switch out my morning coffee for lukewarm water with lemon (or even cold water with lemon).  I sip it pretty much all day, not only does it make you feel refreshed and your body feels clean and light, but it also helps detoxify your liver (perfect if you’ve overindulged at the beach the weekend before!).
  2. Iced green tea.  While the thought of hot tea or coffee is furthest from my mind, iced green tea not only cools you down, but it is chock full of antioxidant, lovely little compounds that do everything from protect you from disease to make your  skin glow.  Some controversial studies have even linked green tea to helping lower obesity, LDL “bad” cholesterol and improve weight loss- green tea may help with fat oxidation.  But again, controversial – my take?  I just like how it tastes and there are so many other good properties of green tea that it is definitely worth adding it to your daily repertoire.
  3. Greek yogurt.  If you read this blog you know about my love affair with greek yogurt.  Low in sugar, high in stick-to-your ribs protein and with a silky flavor, this is truly a miracle food.  Particularly in the hot summer months, it is my go-to breakfast of choice — try throwing some ripe cherries or raspberries in it, or sliced banana for a banana cream pie flavor.  Craving frozen yogurt?  Combine greek yogurt, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1 tbsp agave nectar (also good with cocoa powder added).  Place in little paper cups (like the kind you get at the dentist) with a popsicle stick in the middle.  Stick in your freezer and enjoy!
  4. Gazpacho.  This cold, refreshing soup is the literally the perfect summer lunch on a scorching day (add a slice of wheat toast with avocado slices and paprika for a complete meal).  Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that has cancer-fighting properties and compounds that help fight free radicals that can damage cells.
  5. Salads.  Whether a fruit salad or for lunch, salads are the most refreshing thing to eat this time of year.  Check out my previous post on my favorite quick summer salads for some great ideas.

Above all, when the weather gets hot like this, drinking tons of water is your best bet at keeping safe and not getting overheated.  Stay cool folks!