Do you Ski at the Sundance Film Festival? | The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort

In my life as an avid skier and a journalist, my worlds collide in funny ways. The Sundance Film Festival—which brings a huge contingent of my professional community to my front door—is a great example of this. Last year, for instance, an interview with a favorite actor proved to me that not skiing can be a win. (WHAT?!)

[Click the link below to see the full post, and to find out which actor saved me from myself.]

Source: Do you Ski at the Sundance Film Festival? | The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort

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Dr. Zizmor and the Bethenny Effect

You guys. Dr. Zizmor is retiring. I don’t even know how to process this. I haven’t lived in New York City for 14 years, and yet, so inextricably linked is this man—or, rather, his image—to my life there, I am feeling a distinct loss, imagining New York City subways without his rainbow-themed ads, his smiling (smirking?) face.

For the uninitiated: Jonathan Zizmor, MD is a dermatologist whose ads, like this one, have appeared on NYC subways for, well, a very long time.

When I first moved to New York and saw Jonathan Zizmor, M.D. looking down at me as I clung to the grip pole, I was mystified. My thoughts ran the gamut:

“What kind of doctor advertises on the subway?”

“What kind of person chooses a doctor based on the ads on the subway?”

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“I feel wrong even reading these ads.” And, yet, I was a captive audience. I had to read them. Even as I was reading the newspaper or a book, my eyes drifted upward to this man’s smiling face, and his promise of an improved face, body, skin. Wondering, all the while, “Doesn’t he know this is cheesy? Does he really think people sitting in the subway are going to read these ads, and think: ‘Yes. TODAY is the day for all those dermatology procedures I’ve been putting off, and I’m calling Jonathan Zizmor, MD to help me.'”

My zealous wonder (I would bring up these ads at dinner, with alarming frequency) was informed by the fact that I worked for women’s magazines, where the editors cultivated relationships with the best and brightest medical experts. The very thought of calling a doctor from a subway ad was preposterous.

Only today, as the announcement of his retirement at age 70, appeared and reappeared all over social media, did I figure out the fact that creating familiarity was Dr. Z’s stock in trade. It reminded me of an experience years ago when Jeff and I were at a party during the Sundance Film Festival.  We saw a familiar face across the room, and commented to each other that we couldn’t place her—one thing was certain, we knew we’d had dinner with her at our house. It was mildly embarrassing, therefore, that we couldn’t remember her name. Still, we found it irksome that she hadn’t come over to greet us.  Finally, we saw her speaking with another friend of ours, and when their conversation wrapped up, we asked the friend to ID her. Oh, said our friend, it’s Bethenny Frankel. We laughed and went over to introduce ourselves. “Bethenny, we were over there at our table getting mad at you because we thought you’d been to our house for dinner, and now you didn’t have the decency to say hello!” Bethenny cracked up. “You know, we have had dinner—if you watched me on TV while you ate. Right?” Right.

This is the genius of Dr. Z. It’s the Bethenny Effect. If you’ve ever taken the subway, you know Dr. Z. I’m willing to bet that he improved the skin of millions of subway riders, for all the years he worked, just by dint of the fact that he was an omnipresent evangelist for good skin.

And, maybe this was the magic—riding with Dr. Z made you forget, for just a minute, that you were in a grimy subway car. Maybe you were thinking about making the world a better place—surely that was the idea behind the rainbow? Whatever the case, Dr. Z was there to take you away from the guy with leg sprawl, next to you, and from the other guy crushing up against your back. So, thank you Dr. Zizmor. I wish you all the best in your retirement.  Though it begs the question: What ad will replace Dr. Z, in the city’s zeitgeist?

 

You can’t airbrush confidence

I accidentally schooled myself on confidence, today. Or, rather, got schooled by my dad and a bunch of friends. (Thanks, Facebook.) I had to upload a photo to Facebook in order to upload it to the press credential application site for the Sundance Film Festival.  Jeff had sent me some head shots, early this morning, that he had taken a few weeks ago. I sent him a thank you text (he’s working out of town, this week), and he replied, “Are those ok?” Meaning: will they work. My response was, “They’ll need major retouching for social media but they are just fine for Sundance. After all, they usually lose the jpeg file and I have to retake my photo at credential pickup.” Yes, I write verbose texts. Sue me. And, bad wife, I forgot to tell him how nicely they were framed and lit—very nicely, indeed.

Jeff, to his credit, didn’t dignify that with any sort of “Oh, stop, you look great.” Which is not to say he didn’t think it, but he knew better than to argue with me about my vanity at the exact moment he knew I was juggling my fussy coffee-brewing routine (because he’s too far away to make my espresso) with my fussy-breakfast-cooking-routine. (Don’t ask. It’s the one meal I can cook well, reliably, so I always fix a hot breakfast for my family, but it’s usually more than one, because we all like different things. And I can’t bear to part with this ritual.)

And as I went about that routine, I pondered the images. Which is to say, I started mentally searching my calendar for a good time to book a facial—a microdermabrasion facial, perhaps. Something to really erase whatever the fuck happened to my skin, for instance.

An hour or so later, when I quickly uploaded the photo to Facebook, in spite of my insistence to Jeff that I’d need him to retouch these before using them in any public forum, it was a conscious decision to accept these beautiful photographs. “Fuck it,” I thought. “Just yesterday I saw this great tweet from Amy Schumer, with her bare-all photo for the Pirelli calendar, and I thought how awesome that she is using her fame to show off true beauty—humanity, confidence.” I published it without comment. And then, my dad and a bunch of friends took over, pouring on the kind words. Which, bias notwithstanding, I knew were heartfelt. I thought: These are cute photos, and they look like me. Not some airbrushed version of me, not some professionally-styled version of me. Just me, on a Sunday in November, age 42 (fully clothed, you’re welcome), feeling happy and, yes, confident. No airbrush, required.

The Unhealthy Health Writer

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You know how, sometimes, you read health stories in magazines, or you listen to a report on TV about the latest research, and you think: “I can’t possibly do all the things the world recommends to keep myself healthy?”  Well, imagine you are a health writer, and your job is to be on top of the latest research—to find that magic bullet that is protective against breast cancer and heart disease (oh, right, it’s exercise, and maybe chocolate, and possibly wine, but only if you have no family history of breast cancer and you’re half orangutan. Ok, I made that middle part up, whatever.). You spend your days mentally checking off the boxes in the “I’m not supposed to do/eat/think this column.” Or, if you’re me, you think: ‘Oh, great, I just ran three miles, but I forgot to stretch, and now I’m sitting on my butt writing for the rest of the day, and I read somewhere that that could be worse for me than not exercising at all.’

And then, of course, the science changes. Things you thought you were supposed to avoid (hello, eggs), turn out to be just peachy, thankyouverymuch. Still, you can’t shake the notion—or, at least, I can’t shake the notion—that while I’m doing research on a story on heart disease prevention, it’s a sort of sacrilege to down three mini-quiches at the coffee shop while I send email queries to experts. I know, I know, I’m a rebel without a cause. Here are some other things I do, dead wrong:

I don’t sleep much. At all. Instead, I struggle to stay awake to see how House Hunters: Renovation turns out. (Hint: It cost more than they budgeted to spend. There were unexpected delays. It’s more beautiful than they can imagine. And they are now trapped in a museum quality masterpiece of a house that they cannot afford.) Sleep is one of those things experts like to tell me, for attribution, that make a difference in weight gain, weight loss, inflammation, heart health, and a host of other health issues. That’s all well and good, but if the Property Brothers are on my DVR, well, they’re not going to watch themselves!

I over-caffeinate. This works out well for no one. Except for the imaginary people who are chasing me.

I forget to floss. My awesome dental health professional, Mike, likes to tell me I can get by with a few days a week. This, to my ears, is code for “not at all.” Oops.

I try to “win” yoga. This is defeatist in about six different ways. First of all yoga is where you are supposed to find your Zen, go inward, and forget that other people are in the room. Missy, the instructor in my Wednesday morning class, overheard me telling a pal, before class, that I had gotten so enchanted with the idea of “flipping the dog” and doing “wheel” pose, because the substitute instructor said something about “reaching for a goal,” in the previous week’s class, that I spent the rest of the week with a pinched nerve in my neck. So, the whole class got a lecture about checking our egos at the door, and just doing what our bodies want in the moment. My body, it wants to WIN, dammit.

I bite off more than I can chew and burn the candle at both ends while thinking up other cliches to describe my predicament. This is a version of the lecture I received from my parents for my entire educational career, every time I took on a role in the school play, plus wrote for the school newspaper and joined three fun clubs, at the expense of my GPA. That last part just makes me a bad writer.

I don’t stretch after I work out. Not enough, anyway. My hamstrings are forever tight. I have failed massage. Twice.

I eat sugar. Not tons. Unless there’s a bag of marshmallows in the house. Then, watch out, people.

I want fries with that. Every time. Never, ever, ever do I substitute the salad.

I spend too much time on social media. It’s an occupational hazard. I am endlessly curious, and also always in pursuit of a story idea. And if three friends whine about the same thing—sore hamstrings from spinning, guilt over eating something yummy, or whatever…it could be a trend!

All in all, none of these are terrible health sins. I still subscribe to the “everything in moderation, including moderation,” mantra. But I know, too, that I let myself get away with too many of these things, too frequently. Especially the sleep thing. So, what are you letting slide? What health habits do you consciously overlook, and then berate yourself for doing so?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want J. Lo’s Trainer, Michelle Obama’s Arms, and…

…a stand-up paddle board, plus some lessons in the sport.

Ordinarily, I’m not one of those folks who relies on putting things out “to the universe” and seeing what I get in return. I’ve always been a fan of picking a goal and working at it. I’m not judging people who swear by the law of attraction. In fact, I happen to envy their ability to write a random seven or nine figure number on a piece of paper, tuck it under their pillow, and believe that they will come into that amount of money.

(And now, I’ll admit that I was insomnia-busting with my DVR last night, and found a long-ago recorded episode of The Lottery Changed My Life, on TLC. This episode profiled  a woman who had adopted her late brother’s children, quit her job to care for them and then did the whole Law of Attraction thing, right down to the big-money note under the pillow…And. She. Won. That. Exact. Amount.)

I think in terms of process and product. It may be because I’ve worked in women’s magazines for so many years, interviewed a ton of celebrities about their healthy lifestyles, and arrived at the conclusion that one gets a hard-body like J. Lo’s through a combination of hard work, determination, discipline, deep pockets for the trainer fees, delivered meals, and the ability to schedule hour after hour of physical training.

I look at photos of Michelle Obama and think: I need to find the discipline to rise each morning for a predawn workout. I once read that when her first daughter was born, Michelle noticed that her husband didn’t miss a workout—so she figured out the 4am workout as a way to take care of herself before she started meeting the needs of others. Still, I wondered…how does she look so, well, sculpted? As it turns out, the answer to that question (and any others a person could possibly dream up about what makes the First Lady of the United States appear so polished, confident and engaging) arrived in the form of a review copy of What Would Michelle Do? by Allison Samuels.

Maybe there’s something to this attraction thing after all?

Let’s put aside that I’ve been reading Allison’s writing for years in Newsweek, and I’ve always admired her style—it’s bright, informed, engaging and sharp. She has interviewed the First Lady several times for Newsweek, and that credibility is clear in the book. And, yes, the book delivers the exact routine that can get me those “guns.” Slam dunk.

Reassuringly, What Would Michele Do? is chockablock with the kind of advice that’s best described as “common-sense-plus.” Informed by her interviews with the First Lady for Newsweek, as well as other research and interviews with various members of the First Lady’s team, the book attempts to bridge the gap between aspiration and activation. We get a peek at how Michelle learned to create her signature style, cultivate meaningful friendships, balance (and blend) her professional and family lives according to the rules that work for her. The book is respectful, not dishy. For me, the best message of the book is this: The guidelines don’t give you a recipe for a perfect life. Instead, they acknowledge the fact that the one hard and fast rule is to know yourself and your own needs—and that doing things “like everybody else” is a recipe for failure. Taking in information through your personal filter, and using it to your best advantage—that’s likely the best example of WWMD.

Because Allison has interviewed the First Lady several times, the book is filled with insights that are informed by those meetings as well as information gleaned from key “insiders” (her mom, her hairstylist)—but delivered in a way that makes it clear that these tips are actionable by women of any means. Take the workout—headline: No Gym, No Problem. Very un-Hollywood.

I’m not ashamed to tell you that I’m going to snap a photo of that page with my phone so I can reference it for my own workouts.

Overall, the book delivers on the promise of the title—a 3-D view of how Michelle navigates the worlds she inhabits.

And in the spirit of the WWBND reference on my own site, I’ll tell you how I’m changing my tune about attraction.

I have announced to my family that I want that paddle board, that the ultimate Mother’s Day gift is a package of paddle boarding lessons. And I will keep announcing it. Some way, somehow, those lessons will happen.

What will you do?

Meet me at the intersection of Karate and Sundance

I’ve always wanted to go away to a film festival.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the fun we have when the world comes to us in Park City to attend the Sundance Film Festival. But I’m never able to truly immerse myself in the festival—to go, nonstop, until I can’t go anymore. There are carpools, there are vet appointments, there are lunches to pack, karate lessons to supervise,

Ai-Yah! Little guy strikes a pose

 

and no “I was traveling for business” excuses to brush off other work until after the festival.

Granted, there are upsides. I get to sleep in my own bed. I can hide behind, “the kids need me,” so that I can get back to that bed at a decent hour. AND, I can take a break from the mayhem, get some perspective, and have a really, really great parenting moment in between meetings, interviews and screenings.

To wit: I took a break from schmoozing (with friends and colleagues),

A toast with my pal Jessica—an annual tradition

schlepping (from venue to venue) and schnorring(enjoying freebies like lunch and vitamin supplements) and scheduling appointments for swag lounges), as well as scheduling (interviews, meetings and dinner engagements)—to pick up the Little Guy from school. It’s not much of an “escape”—the school is in a building that houses a screening venue—but I do take off my credential for a moment before I go tickle him (the official signal that it’s time to go home). However, after I caught myself trying to hurry him into his boots and coat (like any four year old will ever heed such urging), I decided to seize the moment and run some errands before we had to pick up our friend from another venue.

Jeff, capturing the vibe at the Puma Wireimage Lounge

Which is how I found myself arguing with a four year old in the cereal aisle.

Yes, I was loading my cart with coconut milk and almond milk at the exact same time as my son was placing Fruity Pebbles in it.

We were at near-military standoff.

“It’s poison,” I said. “Put it back, please.”

“It’s not poison, mom, it looks Deeelissshhhus!”

“That’s how they get you to eat the poison, baby. Put it back, please,” I said.

Some nice ladies with whom I briefly shared a look of recognition (“We’re nice Jewish moms from the east coast, too,” their glances seemed to say. Also our common dark, straight(ened) hair, brown eyes, wry expressions were a tip off.), said, “Your mommy is very smart, you should listen to her,” they said. “It is poison.”

“No,” he said. “It’s not. And I’m not putting it back. I want to eat the Fruity Pebbles.”

“Baby,” I said. “What’s the first rule of karate?”

Suddenly, he gave me a sheepish look.

“Listen to your parents, the first time,” said he.

“OK, Seth, will you please put the box back on the shelf?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

You could have knocked me over with a feather. He actually put. The. Box. Back. On. The. Shelf.

The nice yenta ladies practically gave me a standing ovation.

“I’m signing my grandson up for karate as soon as I get home,” one of them said. “He doesn’t listen to anyone.”

We all beamed at each other in a great moment of Mommy solidarity. Suddenly, my son piped up, his eyes alighted on another box. I braced myself. Then:

“Mommy! Look! Clifford cereal!” Indeed, it was. ORGANIC Clifford Cereal. “Can I have it, please?”

 

Of course I bought the Clifford Crunch!

Duh!

So, a special shout out of thanks to the awesome karate instructors over at Bobby Lawrence Karate in Park City. You guys rock!

Buy the November issue of Prevention Magazine!

Jillian Michaels is on the cover of the November issue of Prevention, and I wrote the cover story. It was an incredible experience, and not just because Jillian and her team are a group of lovely, warm, funny people. All of this is true, and made it ever-more enjoyable to do my job that day. Of course, we talked about The Biggest Loser, her new gig on The Doctors, on Dr. Phil, where she’s arrived in the adoption process (and even how she’d advise people to do it differently than she has!), what kind of mom she thinks she’ll be…and even her own troubled teen years.

Jillian's Prevention Cover

Pick up a copy on newsstands today!

But being privy to Jillian’s process, as she coached three Prevention readers toward better, more fulfilling lives, was, quite frankly, humbling to watch. Yes, we called three readers and got into the nitty gritty of their lives for this story, too.

Truly, this is a woman who puts her heart into her work. She so quickly saw to the core of their roadblocks, and engaged them with compassion. When the interviews were completed, she and I got the chance to talk. That’s when she said, “You really love what you do, too. It shows.” I was over the moon—because she’s 100 percent right. And I’m glad it shows. What got me pumped that day was being part of a project that included learning about the three dimensional life she leads, and the way that she invests herself in helping people.

Not to get too soap-boxy, but every work day is another opportunity for me to find ways to engage other people about the things that matter most–our health, our well-being, our relationships. It’s even more fun when I’m collaborating with people who get that.

Yes, I get paid to watch TV!

This is the part where I trend #Ilovemyjob over and over again, right?

So, first, click over to Yahoo! Shine to see what I said when Prevention asked me to report on the Bachelorette’s-eye-view of Marriage. I wonder, do you think there’s any inherent value to the way the “reality” show approaches holy matrimony?

Then, go on over to Prevention.com, and see what shows made the cut when I watched (and watched and watched and watched) TV to find healthy messages.

You’ll be surprised to see how much good news there is on network TV. But you should have seen the looks I got from people at my “remote office” (a/k/a Park City Coffee Roaster), when I sat, for hours, streaming episodes of TV on my MacBook, and looking like a total slacker. #Ilovemyjob!

Even cooler….ABC NEWS picked up my story. Maybe it calls for a new hashtag? #struttinmystuff

Am I hip enough?

I’m away. In a quiet room. I should be working, or unpacking, or changing into gym clothes to workout. But the room us making me think too much. It has an orange vanity & shower. Made for me. But I worry I will blind myself if i get up in the middle of the night to use the potty.

And I’m thinking: the boys would love the spaceship style beanbag chair which appears as sculpture in front of the TV. And Miriam would adore the tile and the orange lamp as I do.

And if I have to be anywhere “erev carmaggedon” thus ain’t bad.

I think I’ll do something very un-LA & take a walk!

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