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I have a running joke with Jared that I gained 10 pounds when we started dating.  I wish I could say it’s totally a joke, but it’s actually not.  I really did gain weight when Jared and I started dating.  Part of me blamed it on the fact that soon after we started dating, I moved back to New Jersey, a state that, despite it’s finer qualities, is seriously lacking in public transportation.  Without my daily walk to and from the Metro and work, it’s natural that I would start to gain weight, right?

Then, I cam across this article in Glamour called “Is Your Boyfriend Making You Fat?“.  Ah, so it’s not just me….

Part of this is tongue in cheek, but I really do think there is some truth to this.  Case in point:  Jared is away this week, and I’ve already lost 3 pounds.  Why?  Because I’m not eating as much when I get home and I’m in a regular workout routine.

With dating comes all of the typical activities of being newly in love:  going out to eat together, spending lots of time together, exploring new hobbies.  While exciting, this can also be time consuming, giving you less time to focus on healthy eating and excercising.  And when you move in with your significant other, well, that’s another story!  All that time you had to go to the gym for those long workouts seems to fly out the window.  So, it’s not surprising to me that females would gain weight when they are in a relationship.

I think the key here is identifying those factors that are causing weight gain.  In this article, they pin the blame on the fact that guys eat a lot, and when you are around them, you will tend to do the same.  I wouldn’t say that’s necessarily the case for me.  For me, it comes down to the elephant in the room: eating out.  As you can tell from my blog, both of us love food. When we weren’t together, I would eat out maybe once a week, if that.  Now, it’s only natural that once Friday rolls around, we spend very little time eating at home.  I don’t need to get into the facts about restaurant portions, etc.; I think everyone knows how eating out a lot is unhealthy for you!  The other issue is time :  when I was single in the city, it was no problem to wake up every day at 5:30 for a nice long workout.  These days, with all of our activities and bonding time, squeezing in a workout is not so simple.

Are there people that don’t gain weight when they start dating someone or move in with their husband for the first time?  Sure there are.  For the rest of us, though, it turns into a delicate balance of time and will power 🙂

Boyfriends, fiances, husbands, take no offense.  We’re equally to blame for this phenomenon as you are!  It’s just easier to pass the blame ;).

How do you all fend off the weight gain when life becomes busy with love?  Share your tips!


This weekend, Jared and I are in Connecticut celebrating Bud and Sharon’s wedding!  Since Jared’s in the wedding, we are away today, and my Features Friday section is taking a hiatus.

Congratulations, Bud and Sharon!  We look forward to your wedding tomorrow and to many years of happiness 🙂

Best of Luck to a Great Couple!

Best of Luck to a Great Couple!

Do you know what I hate most about being an adult?  When 6 p.m. rolls around and I walk through the door after work, the inevitable question arises almost immediately between Jared and I:  what will we have for dinner?

It’s tough to be creative 5 days a week.  It’s even harder for 2 people that are hardly home on weekends to plan ahead for the weekday dinners by cooking meals and freezing them for later use.  We do what we can, but I have to admit that I fail miserably in the meal planning department.  Hats off to all you moms and busy women that are good at planning ahead!

Anyway, Hungry Girl came to our rescue again tonight with a great meal idea.  Last night, we had cooked whole wheat pasta, eaten our serving, and put the rest in the fridge.  Tonight, we decided to have hot dogs and I wanted to have some kind of macaroni and cheese with it (comfort food…been a long month!!).  I remembered reading about a recipe in a Hungry Girl e-mail that used pasta and Laughing Cow Cheese to make a healthier version of my favorite food.

Lo and behold, we had all the ingredients required to make this!  It tasted great, and was a great way to repurpose our leftovers to make sure they actually got eaten!

While checking out the recipe for Hungry Girl’s Too E-Z Mac and Cheese, make sure you sign up for her daily newsletter.  Then, when that inevitable question comes up, you’ll have your own arsenal of ways to spice up what you already have in the fridge!

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a very interesting article that examined how girls’ dieting habits have changed over the past 20-odd years.  “Girls and Dieting:  Then and Now” took a look back at the opinions of 100 fourth graders in 1986, and touched base with some of them to discuss their opinions of the dieting craze now.  Not surprisingly, these women agree that girls now have it worse than they did in 1986.

Although, things in 1986 don’t seem too great to me either.  In that year, the University of California released a study saying that 80% of 4th grade girls were dietings.  80%?  Are you kidding me?  In the fourth grade?  That’s just sick.

But I guess it really should come as no surprise to us.  Fourth grade boys in 1986 reportedly noted that “Fat girls aren’t like regular girls-they aren’t attractive.”  Knowing the way kids are, this young boy’s opinion probably made the rounds.  When kids are that age, they really have no sense for what is inappropriate when it comes to discussing a person’s body.  Particularly if they hear their parents comment on another person’s size.  What fourth grade girl is going to want to eat lunch in front of boys who have such strong opinions of their body?  At a time when self-esteem is starting to dip based on hormonal factors and other growing pains, the negative comments from peers certainly begin to hit home in a dangerous fashion.

The article touched on images in the media as having an impact on children regarding size.  I honestly can’t remember if I felt the same way in fourth grade.  Sure, I was aware of celebrities and teen idols, but I’m not sure their weight ever had too much of an effect on me.  I guess I always considered them to be in a different league when it came to beauty and weight.  Don’t you wish we could feel the same way now?

The comments for this article kind of made me sick.  There’s always one person in the bunch that has to remind all of us that obesity is a problem.  No kidding.  I’m not denying that there aren’t young children that are obese, but come on.  There are several comments here that basically dismiss the disturbing phenomenon of fourth grade girls being on a diet with the universal, “well, these girls were probably obese”.  We’re talking here about healthy young girls that cannot get a firm grasp on a healthy body image.  No one is advocating obesity.  It’s comments like that that make it difficult to discuss female body image candidly without fearing an attack.

I hope if I am ever a mother that I am able to instill in my children a strong sense of self-worth and healthy living that does not include standing in front of a mirror putting down their bodies or the bodies of other children.  I hope that as parents continue to bring up children in our society, they begin to teach them the ways to talk to other children that may not look like them, ensuring that no one is isolated or takes drastic measures as a result of their weight.

Everyone’s heard of Etsy, right?  Well, it seems the wedding world goes crazy when the name of this site is mentioned.  So, without further ado, I bring you Etsy Wedding!

Etsy is for those brides that are tire of the ordinary.  Etsy Wedding helps you sift through everything to find those things that make your wedding extraordinary.

Have fun!

I read a very disturbing article the other day on Glamour’s Vitamin G blog.  The article spoke about a bride-to-be in the UK who died from heart failure due to a restrictive diet.  The goal of this diet?  To slim down for her wedding.

I get very upset when I read about women like this.  As I’m going through the wedding planning process, this story happened to hit home to me even more.  Why?  Because I know exactly where this woman was getting the idea in her head that she had to go to drastic measures to look great on her big day.  How? Because all brides are getting the same messaging.

The minute you change your Facebook status from “In a relationship” to “Engaged”, guess what kinds of ads begin popping up in your sidebar?  That’s right, wedding ads. The ad that I receive the most is one about doing a 30-day diet to lose weight specifically for your wedding.

When I went to one of the 3 dress stores I decided to visit, the first brochure handed to me was a brochure detailing a Bridal Boot Camp program meant to help brides lose weight quickly in anticipation for that fabulous dress that I had yet to find.  Had to wonder if this brochure was given to everyone, or just those that the store owner thought might need it.

As I’m browsing wedding Web sites, every single one has a section related to weight loss so you can “look your best on your most important day.”  In fact, on my “to-do list” today from, I was informed that my priority for the month was to stick to a workout plan.  Thank you,, for determining that my looking good is more important than any other wedding detail this month.

Fellow brides, the list goes on.  From the comments we, as brides, make to our family and friends (“Ohh, I’d love that piece of cake, but I have a wedding dress to squeeze into!”) to the messages sent to us from the media, the theme is all the same: You are currently not beautiful enough to walk down the aisle.  Your day will not be perfect unless you commit to dropping some pounds and toning up.

Yes, I know.  I’m taking this message to the extreme.  But, to be honest, the pressure to be a perfect bride in every sense does not end with the planning details.  It extends into every aspect of the wedding, right down to how you look in your photographs.  And what girl wouldn’t want to look her best?  My problem lies with the way this message is conveyed to all my fellow brides.  Let’s face it, we’re not seeing the same messages being sent to grooms, are we?  Yeah, didn’t think so.  We won’t even get into that one!

Here’s my favorite message:  “Slim down now with The Wedding Diet so you can look and feel your best in your dress.” First of all, why wouldn’t you have bought a dress you feel great in regardless of your size?  No one should have to deny themselves for months on end to fit into a dress that doesn’t feel right no matter what.  And let’s remember the whole point of the day:  you are celebrating your union to the person that has promised to love you until death do you part.  Not “unless she can’t lose weight.”  Not “only if she looks fantastic in her dress.”  The reality of it is, your fiance loves you regardless of how perfect you look on your wedding day.  He loves you when you first wake up in the morning, after you’ve worked out, after you’ve had a bad day….and he’s marrying YOU not the perfect camera-ready version of you.  And, the best part is, he decided this long before you popped in the Bridal Boot Camp DVD.

The messaging that we’re receiving that tells us we need to achieve a whole new level of perfection just to walk down the aisle is disheartening.  I hope that other brides remember that their future husbands love them as they are and want to see them happy on their wedding day, not thin beyond recognition or comfort.  By remembering that we are loved beyond our ability to look perfect in a dress, maybe we can prevent other men from having to suffer the tragedy of their future wives dying before they have a chance at marriage.

A few weeks ago, I wrote that I would be participating in The Great American Taste Test. Well, today’s the day to see how it all played out!

First, a bit about the book:  Ron Douglas has spent the past 5 years of his life ensuring that American families can enjoy restaurant-quality food without the restaurant price.  With his easy-to-follow steps  in America’s Most Wanted Recipes:  Delicious Recipes from Your Family’s Favorite Restaurants, families can now enjoy the meals they love most at a price they can actually afford.

Ron Douglas' "America's Most Wanted Recipes"

Ron Douglas' "America's Most Wanted Recipes"

It wasn’t easy to pick a restaurant.  The rules of the experiment were that  bloggers were to choose a recipe from the book, visit the restaurant to eat it, then make it ourselves using the book to compare.  Jared and I found the choices to be a bit limiting, menu-wise, at some of our favorite restaurants.  A lot of the recipes were for sauces or other small menu items, and I wanted to try to prepare a full meal from one of the restaurants.  Not necessary, I know, but it sounded like fun!

After much debate, we decided to go with Chili’s.  We hadn’t been there in awhile, and the menu options allowed me to make a full meal, from appetizer to dessert.

So, we ordered the following:

Chili's Southwestern Egg Rolls

Chili's Southwestern Egg Rolls

Chili's Margarita Grilled Chicken

Chili's Margarita Grilled Chicken

Chili's Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie

Chili's Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie

So, how did things turn out?  We’ll go dish by dish!

Southwestern Egg Rolls

We were pretty excited to try these at home.  If you haven’t had the chance to try these at Chili’s you really should.  They are simply delicious.  And the home version was pretty simple as well.  The “hardest” part was probably the frying, but otherwise, it really is just a matter of mixing ingredients, rolling them into tortillas, freezing, and frying.

My version of the Southwestern Egg Rolls

My version of the Southwestern Egg Rolls

The frying was a bit tricky, as I think our oil got a little too hot, overcooking the tortillas.  Next time, we’ll definitely have to take them out earlier to achieve the same softer, fried consistency that Chili’s has in theirs.  From a taste perspective, I can’t really say that these tasted the same as Chili’s version.  While they were definitely very good, there was something very different about the taste.  I suspect it might have been a bit too heavy on the pepper flavor.  Regardless, they were very good and I would definitely give these another shot with less time in the frying oil.

Margarita Grilled Chicken

This was a dish I had never tried until we went to Chili’s for this project.  The home version was super simple and had very few ingredients:  just mix margarita mix, tequila and garlic, marinate 4 chicken breasts, and grill!  Really couldn’t be any easier.

My Margarita Grilled Chicken

My Margarita Grilled Chicken

From a flavor perspective, I think they chicken could have used a bit more margarita flavor.  The chicken was very sweet, and we let it marinade longer than the suggested two hours, but it was still lacking a bit in flavor.  I think the other issue with trying this dish at Chili’s and trying it at home is that Chili’s serves its own version with black beans, mexican rice and pico de gallo.  I did not serve mine with that, and I have to admit it was lacking.  This was my own fault, as I just noticed now that the book says to serve it with those ingredients.  I missed it, since it wasn’t part of the recipe.  Oh well.  The beans and rice certainly enhance the flavor of the chicken, so, if I were to do this again, I would be sure to add those elements in.

Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie

Jared and I both agreed that this recipe came the closest to the restaurant version out of everything we tried today. Once again, very simple to make:  a simple graham cracker crust, chocolate chips, and a dough-like topping.  When topped with ice cream, hot sauce and caramel sauce, this dessert definitely came extremely close to the original.

My Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie

My Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie

We did choose to use almonds in our version.  The recipe called for walnuts or almonds, and I happen to prefer almonds.  I can’t specifically recall if the restaurant used walnuts or almonds, but the recipe tasted just fine with almonds.

In all, I can see how the recipes in this book would be a great alternative to actually going to the restaurant.  From an ingredients perspective, I’m trying to figure out if we really saved any money, since we had to buy a lot of the items required.  We had a lot of the basics, but still spent about $50-$70 for the ingredients for all three recipes.  When we went to Chili’s, I think our bill was almost the same.  However, for larger families, I can certainly see how this would be a cost savings.  Also, I think over time, making these recipes at home would end up being a huge cost savings.

Although the recipes didn’t quite match up to the Chili’s version, and we definitely didn’t feel like we were at the restaurant, it was still fun to give this a try and see how close they came.  I’m certainly planning on trying more from this book.  It has to be challenging to develop these recipes on taste alone, so, hats off to Ron Douglas for coming pretty darn close to the originals!  Next time you need taste-testers, make sure you call Jared and I.  😉

For the sake of my hungry fiance, my next attempt from the book will be Applebee’s Walnut Blondie with Maple Butter Sauce….yum!!!

I’ve been meaning to take a look at this blog for awhile.  This past week motivated me to feature it, as I’ve been thinking a lot about that icky wedding detail that tends to ruin a lot of things and cause a lot of tears:


I’d love to expound here about the virtues of a budget and tell you that money doesn’t matter when you’re planning a wedding.  Really, I’d love to.  But honestly, I can’t do that.  During the planning process, I’ve seen that it absolutely does matter.  Money has the power to control what type of wedding you’ll have, who will have a voice in planning it, who might feel excluded, etc.  While there are many aspects that are involved in planning a very special day in your life, I’d be a big liar if I told any of you that money wasn’t a factor.

The reason I love this blog:  $10,000 is not a lot of money to spend on a wedding.  Do the math:  if you have your reception at a venue that charges $100 per person, and  only 100 people attend, there’s your $10,000 right there just for food.  While the average price of a wedding has dropped $6,000 since last year, weddings are still a hefty chunk of change to spend on one day.

Hats off to the people that budget and plan so carefully down to the last dollar.  I can assure all of you that this is not an easy feat.  When you combine families from two different socio-economic backgrounds, having those discussions about money are tough.   So, for that reason, I’m honoring Ten Thousand Only for the DIY tips and tricks she features and for her diligence in ensuring her own wedding didn’t break the bank.

I’ll certainly be writing more about money in the upcoming weeks.  Stay tuned, and enjoy the weekend!

As mentioned in my last book review, Jennifer Weiner‘s books are quickly becoming my absolute favorites.  After reading “Good in Bed“, I was dying to read the sequel, “Certain Girls“.  This book was equally as fantastic and I finished it just as quickly!

When I read the summary of this book, I was not sure how much I would be able to relate to it.  After all, I’m not a teenage girl, nor do I have children at all.  It was much easier to relate to Cannie’s weight and job issues in the first book, as they resonated more with my personal experiences.  In fact, I was such a Cannie fan that I spent the better part of the book disliking Joy.  I got over it, though, due to Ms. Weiners remarkable ability to draw you in and make you feel as if you do identify with some piece of their life.

I do have to admit that there were some scenes in this book with Joy that I found a bit hard to believe.  Some of her adventures seemed a bit too mature for a girl her age.  I’m not saying it made the book unenjoyable, but it did kind of take it out of the bounds of reality for me a bit.  Once again, not a bad thing, but a little too much of a stretch for my mind in some parts.

Ms. Weiner adds quite the surprise toward the end of the book.  Another moment where I had to be mad at her, as it was not the kind of twist I was hoping for or expecting. I guess I should have seen it coming, given some of the surprises in “Good in Bed.”  I cried quite a bit and wanted to jump through the pages and change the endings a bit, but it’s these elements that make for a fantastic story.

Jennifer Weiner is just a fantastic author with the ability to make you feel the emotions of characters you think you’ll never be able to identify with.  Escaping to Cannie’s world is a welcome escape, and I can’t wait to see what “Best Friends Forever” is like!

On my Yahoo! news last week, a story about a model in Glamour magazine was buzzed up to the first page.  The story discussed how an “un-airbrushed photo of a plus-sized model” had been printed in the magazine, resulting in an outpouring of praise for Glamour’s willingness to show real women.

I hate the fact that this is news.  Don’t misunderstand me here:  I am a loyal Glamour subscriber, and when I saw this picture of Lizzie Miller, I actually pointed it out to Jared and said, “Wow, this model actually looks closer to my size than the usual ones.”  I, too, applaud the fact that Glamour is willing to show photos of women that reflect what people like me actually look like.

But why does this have to be news?  I cringe every single time I read the words “plus-sized model” in a news headline.  Since when is someone’s size news?  This mostly happens with celebrities and public figures, which I find even more disheartening.  What does someone’s size have to do with their talent?  Not to mention the fact that I myself would qualify as a “plus-sized model,” given the constraints we put on what this means.  In fact, most women I know would be considered a plus-sized model.  What a fantastic self-esteem booster (note the sarcasm here).

Once again, I’m not undermining the effects of obesity on a person’s health and lifestyle.  Obesity in our children and adults is a major issue that needs to be addressed and solved through healthier habits and early education.  However, according to the media’s standards, a plus-sized model is now considred to be size 12 and over.  This does not account for anything else related to the model’s general health.  I may be larger than some of my friends, but what if I have more energy than they do?  What if I eat healthier than they do, but still don’t lose weight? Why is plus-sized considered a negative connotation, when it likely means a model is healthier than her stick-thin counterparts?

My point is, size, in most cases, is just a number.  A person’s general health is determined by a lot of factors outside of size.  Yes, sometimes a larger size is a direct correlation to unhealthy habits, but most times, it’s just a number.  A lot of women can be healthy at size 12 or size 2 and a lot of women can be unhealthy at size 12 or size 2.  The fact that sizes over 10 tend to make the news more frequently is upsetting to those of us that live in a real world with real bodies and real struggles.

Once again, I applaud Glamour for recognizing that real women have real bodies.  I eagerly await the day that a picture in a magazine of a real women is not news.

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