November 4, 2016

Drug Store Foundation Say What?!


(Image Source)

I remember my first department store makeup counter experience. That was all I wanted for Christmas in 8th grade, a makeover.  My mom took me by myself, a real treat to go somewhere without my sister (Sorry Ruthie).  I really, really wanted Clinique.  That is what my mom uses to this day.  I remember how much I loved her green and white swirled compacts.  I lusted after her eyeshadows and lipsticks in their silver cases.  I knew what Bonus Time was and I wanted my free gift with purchase.

There we were at Hess’s, now known as The Bon Ton, ready to shop. The Clinique lady wasn’t there.  Not a single white lab coat in sight. I was so bummed out.  My mom and I made a special trip for this and I was determined to leave that store with my face done.  So I sat in a chair at Lancôme.  A love affair with makeup began.

I admit, I have been a makeup snob. Revlon?  L’oreal? Easy Breezy Beautiful Covergirl?  No way. Not good enough for me.  Bobbi Brown, Chanel, Burberry.  That’s my jam.  Especially when it comes to foundation.  No way would any drug store anything be a good enough product or the right color match.  Then I discovered Jaclyn Hill and she was raving about this L’oreal Lumi Cushion foundation.  Jaclyn really knows her stuff.  She worked for MAC and has over a million youtube subscribers.  If Jaclyn says buy it, I would buy it.  So I marched right into Duane Reade and threw down $16 for a drug store foundation.

Consider me converted. Run, don’t walk to CVS or Wallgreens or whatever they have in the ‘burbs and get this.  Return your half used, expensive stuff to Sephora and don’t look back.  Tip – they aren’t kidding about it being Lumi, I use a powder with this to cut down the shine a tad.  But seriously.  It lasts all day.  It looks like skin.  I even did a test.  I did half my face in Lumi (one coat to cover) and half my face in Makeup Forever (3 coats to cover!) and my office mates chose the Lumi.

October 6, 2016

Easy Yellow and Green Salad

yellow-saladThis salad is refreshing and a great alternative to plain old lettuce. It takes all of 5 minutes to make, could not be easier and looks so pretty on the plate. We eat with our eyes first, did you know that?  Pretty food tricks our brains into thinking it tastes better and is more filling.  #Winning.  Another fun fact, herbs have like 3X the anti-oxidants of most berries.  Bring on the herbs!  I first made this salad with both mint and cilantro but ran out of cilantro when I took this pic. It is definitely better with both herbs. If you make it, let me know what you think!


1 yellow zucchini or courgette if you’re fancy/Euro

Hand full mint and/or cilantro – chopped or not, depends how you feel/lazy.

1 tbsp good quality olive oil. I like this one

2 tsp vinegar, any kind you like. I used apple cider.

Salt and pepper to taste. I love this salt, reminds me of when I studied abroad.  It is what my host family used.


Wash and dry the zucchini and herbs

Using a veggie peeler, peel the zucchini in long strips. This peeling method is great. Less dishes to wash and is actually faster than chopping.  Trust.

Dress the zucchini strips with the olive oil and vinegar

Sprinkle with herbs, salt, pepper.


September 30, 2016

Back to Basics



I probably spend as much on self-help schemes as I do on skincare.  And good anti-aging products do not come cheap.  People never believe that I am 36 so money well spent.  But I digress.

I submerse myself  in (torture myself with?) self-help because I have a shining glimmer of hope!  Hope there might be something better/easier than the truth. A magic formula that will allow me to have all the ice cream I want AND a healthy BMI.   The perfect thing to fix me.  Well, no stone has gone unturned and I can tell you…it does not exist.  Not for an addict like me.

So it’s time to get back to basics.

As a food addict, there are certain things I just cannot eat, namely sugar and flour.  Not one single bite.  In OA this is called abstinence.  I need to perform a few daily/weekly rituals to support abstinence.  Combined, these basics worked for years and I have to accept they are the best way forward.  As “they” say, acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.  Sometimes I want to yell at “them” because this ain’t easy.

Side bar – don’t you just love that word ritual? I do. It makes the daily “ritual” of something, washing my face for example, sound like a calming almost spiritual experience.  In reality, the ritual of washing my face consists of hurriedly rubbing on the aforementioned expensive soap while trying to keep Violet from sticking her hands in the loo.  Yes, we have a childproof thing on it.  I often forget to snap it on because I am busy reading self-help books.  It’s a vicious cycle.

Emma’s 10 Bottom Line Basics

  1. No sugar. Nada. Real stevia (not Truvia), xylitol, and Swerve are ok but I am pretty much avoiding them right now.
  2. No Flour.  No gluten free pasta. No coconut or almond flours. No Ezekiel bread which is “flourless”.
  3. No Alcohol. Completely Sober.  After even one drink my defenses go down and I make bad decisions.  As in, “Sure, I can share that pizza with you”….No.  No I can’t.
  4. No soda. Drink water. A lot of it. Like 4-5 liters a day. Hydrated cells are happy cells and happy cells burn calories faster or something.
  5. Weigh and Measure food. After years of weighing my food, I still have no idea what 3 ounces should look like.  Nor am I am able to hear my body’s signals around fullness.  Weighing and measuring keeps me safe from over doing it.
  6. Track yourself before you wreck yourself. I forked out for the premium version of myfitnesspal because I want to see my macros (fat, protein, carbs, fiber).  Friend me on the app and starting October 1 you will be able to see what I eat.  My user name is emmainprogress_2016.  Keep me accountable people!
  7. OA Meetings.  I HATE going to them.  I always feel better afterwards.  Sigh.
  8. Exercise.  Cardio.  Weights.  Get my dopamine on.
  9. Spiritual Practice.  Om and Amen.  Keeps me grounded and calm.
  10. Have some fun!  Laugh!  Crucial for wellbeing in general.  Mandatory for abstinence.
September 19, 2016

An Ode to Diet Coke


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Oh Diet Coke. My silver bullet of choice.  Your fizzy mouth feel.  Your sweet, chemical taste.  Your caffeine hit.  Your aspartame, phenylalanine deliciousness.  Your caramel color delight.  How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.

You give me that much needed kick in the pants after Violet has nightmares. You give me that extra lift after late night laundry ‘cause John needed special shirts for trial.   You provide relief from seltzer and plain water boredom.  You are freely available in the drink fridge at work.  You addictive little 12 oz can you.

It’s too hard to be abstinent from real sugar when I drink you. Your calorie free sweetness makes me high.  I chase you like a dragon.  I crash and burn when you leave me.  Alas, this is no way to live.  I have to let you go.

No longer my morning coffee or tea replacement (because coffee & tea taste gross, obvi.) No longer my afternoon delight.  No longer wreaking havoc on my endocrine system.  The antithesis to Kelly Clarkson’s anthem, my life will suck LESS without you.

September 16, 2016

Brutal Honesty – First Weekly Pic

Yesterday’s post was so fun to write. I laughed and I hope you did too.  But life isn’t all bright, sunshiny days despite what Johnny Nash says.  A more serious post about my journey is in order.

I swore up and down I wasn’t going to be one of those people who gains a lot weight during pregnancy. I swore I wouldn’t gain more than the suggested 30 pounds.  Oh no, not me.  I had this thing down.

I gained 70 pounds.


A.V. (After Violet), I assumed I would be able to easily get back in shape. Breastfeeding is a magical weight loss cure, didn’t you know?  14 weeks after giving birth I went back to work.  By then I had lost 40 of the 70.  I only had 30 to go!  Any “normal” person would be proud of that.  I, being insane, freaked out.

I actually couldn’t stop freaking out and therefore, started gaining. And gaining and gaining.  I’ve gained back every single one of the 100 pounds I lost.  Every.  Single.  One.

Of course I am sad and mad and horrified.  Of course I feel like crap.  Of course I have been screaming at myself in my head, and sometimes out loud (note the insane comment above).  I started over on countless Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays, firsts of the month, fifteenths of the month – seeing a trend here?  I tried many, many different methods and I will definitely tell you about them.  But nothing has been sustainable. I feel like a loser and a failure.  I feel ike a disappointment to myself, to my family, most importantly, to Violet.

Why haven’t I been able to just you know, stop eating? Deep breath people, this is a very scary thing to say out loud, let alone to the entire internet.  I am a straight up food addict, a compulsive overeater, a binge eater.

B.V. (Before Violet), I was in a 12 step program called Overeaters Anonymous. It’s AA for food addicts. I had a sponsor.  I worked the 12 steps. I went to meetings.  I worked a food plan.  I worked out hard. I blogged.  All of this work was a demanding, full time job….but it was worth it.

It all went to shit during the first trimester. The morning sickness that lasted all day, every day.  The migraines.  The exhaustion.  I didn’t know how to handle it.  So I stopped doing everything.  I traded meetings and workouts for The Big Bang Theory – seriously.  I watched the whole show start to finish.  TWICE.  I traded veggies for Ben and Jerry.  And I. Just. Could. Not. Stop.

This is me today…



I don’t want to experience life in this body. I want to be a fit, active, healthy mom.  Not just for Violet.  For me.  So I have to start the work again.  Coming back to the blog is step one.  I need accountability.  I need a place to talk about it all, with humor of course.  I hope you will come back next week and start over with me.  I am determined this will be the last time.

September 15, 2016

Welcome Back Kotter

Woah.  More than two years since I have written a thing.  Say whaaaaaa?  Why you ask?  Because this….

Violet Stefania was born on December 19, 2014.  A true Sagittarius, Violet made a very dramatic entrance into the world via rushed C-section. OK, who am I kidding, Sagittarius? She is my daughter, of course her birth was dramatic.  Long story short, straight out of Grey’s Anatomy, Violet had decels.  I thought we both might die for realzies and into the OR we went.  It was the best worst day of my life and nothing has been the same since.


We are kind of making the same face here, she looks like a beautiful little alien!

A few months from her second (SECOND!?!?!) birthday, and I only just now feel somewhat “normal”.


Motherhood is an adjustment people.  Thanks to Pinterest, I expected all unicorns, rainbows, cute baby smiles and poop that smells like flowers. I mean, TV moms lose their baby weight, go back to work, AND sleep through the night when the kid is like a month old.  Well, TV lies.  LIES!  Sure I knew people with babies and of course, I had my beloved nephew Leo.  Those relationships gave me a glimpse into motherhood.  But no one tells you the truth.  Or maybe they tell you and pregnancy hormones give you selective hearing, sight, and ummm smell.  Either way, nothing and I mean NO THING can prepare you for motherhood until you are in it to win it.


So anyway, I am back and with a new blog design no less!  I can’t promise daily posts but I will have new content a few times a week and maybe even a series or two. Creativity is only bound by my free time otherwise known as the half hour it takes me to eat lunch at my desk.  It took me a week to write this.


PS, Stefania is a real name.  It’s the female diminutive of Steven in both Polish and Italian (I’m a quarter each) and a nod to my maiden name.  My mom thought I made it up.  Apparently, she thought this until Violet’s baptism in June 2015.  Turns out the priest’s mother is called Stefania.  For six whole months my mom thought Violet’s middle name was a made up word.  Nice.  For the record, we pronounce it the Polish way, Ste-fan-ya.

PPS, if you don’t know what Welcome Back Kotter is, and/or never saw it referenced on an episode of Friends, you are too young to read this blog.

August 20, 2014

Half Baked


photo (2)


We are a little more than half way through this pregnancy and I thought I would share some of what I have learned.  While pregnancy is a miracle and a gift and I am truly grateful, growing a baby is not all rainbows and angels singing.  Not gonna lie, I was a little deluded and thought I might have a TV pregnancy.  You know, where one day the heroine isn’t showing and the next day she is huge and not much else has changed.  Here is what REALLY happens:

1) No one can explain to you in words what morning sickness feels like.  Some lucky b*#&#@*#  don’t get sick.  Not me.  Nausea set in around week 5 and lasted until week 14.  All day and all night.  In fact, night was worse. So you call your mom and dad because you feel your spirit breaking and your husband is the enemy, this is his fault after all.  Mom and dad help you feel a little better.  You still cry yourself to sleep. 

2) Your whole life gets turned upside down. You used to get up at 5:30am to go to the gym and enjoy a steam before blowing out your hair and carefully applying makeup. Now you get up at 7:45, pray you remember to brush your teeth, and get to work hair unbrushed and makeup undone. You really don’t care about any of this, you are just happy you made it in on time and did not throw up on the train.

3) Headaches.  Let’s not forget the three solid weeks of unending migraine.  That was the best time ever.

4) Exhaustion.  And Insomnia.  You had this idea of a beautiful, organic, medication-free pregnancy where you go to the gym every day and just glow.  Then reality sets in.  You take the damned unisom because you just cannot sleep.  Every night for the last week you have been up in the middle of the night hungry, thirsty, having to pee, and when all those needs have been met you are left wide awake.  So you go to the sofa and hang out with the dog until you can sleep again.  Revert back to item #2.

5) You want to eat.  All. The. Time.  And carrot sticks aren’t going to cut it.  You want bagels with full fat cream cheese.  You want cheetos.  You want salsa or A1 or Franks Red Hot on everything.  If you are lucky, you have a week where all you want to eat are peaches and so you have 4 or 5 a day (hey, at least peaches are good for you!).  Peaches are then recalled because some were contaminated and you are now at risk for Listeria.  You cannot win.  Husbands and Baby Daddies look out, while trying really hard to eat what you know you should (celery, apples, salad, gluten-free pasta) your alter-ego, Crazy Pregnant Lady, takes over and you are miserable thus making everyone around you miserable.  Eventually you cave and have a piece of bread with butter on it.  It’s the best damned thing you have ever tasted and all is right with the world again. 

6) You get off the subway a stop or two early to get in at least a little exercise.  This is a mistake as it is trash day on this street and you didn’t know it. The smell overwhelms you. Try as you might you can’t hold it in and you vomit in the street in front of 5 people. You don’t want them to think you are drunk or crazy so you are holding your bump.  Too bad you vomited on your hand and now have it on your outfit.  Oh yeah, and while you are vomiting you realize you really need to do those kegel things because some pee comes out and runs down your leg.  You walk the rest of the way home mourning your old life. 

7) You wear a wrist brace also known as “the claw” because you have pregnancy-related carpel tunnel syndrome.  At first you think maybe you are dying because something is wrong with your arm and you have no idea what it is.  Then your sister, a pregnancy alum and MD, tells you that its carpel tunnel and you are destined to wear the claw until giving birth.  It is very hard to type while wearing the claw.  It itches and makes Crazy Pregnant Lady rear her ugly head. 

8) You think the best part about being pregnant is getting a seat on the subway.  If no one offers you a seat (which 99% of the time they do not) you quickly get over any sense of etiquette you think you have and start asking people to trade with you. 

9) The REAL best part of pregnancy is feeling the little bugger move around inside you.  You are so happy you call your parents to share the good news and then you cry.  Every time she moves you smile and laugh a little.  People at work start to think you are loosing it, but you are so happy that you don’t care. 

10) You start to forget about numbers 1-7.  You eat some carrot sticks, go for a swim at the gym, brush your hair, and thank God for stretchy maternity clothes that cover your rapidly expanding self.

July 17, 2014

Back with Big News!

There is no better way to celebrate this news than with a photo of my beloved nephew, Leo Anthony…

photo 2

Baby Girl Godfrey is expected to make her debut on Christmas Day.  Can you tell that just like us, Leo is so excited?!

May 15, 2014

My Running Career Is Officialy Over

sad face


I’ve been having issues for a while now with my knees.  In fact I just finished up a few weeks of PT for the left one, I tweaked it in a boot camp class a few months ago.  I went for a follow-up on Monday to the orthopedic surgeon and turns out my running career – or HOPE of a running career – is over.  Going forward, no high impact activities, specifically no running.     He suggested cycling and swimming.  I guess my spin shoes are going to get a lot more use.  Happily as it gets nicer outside, all I want to do is bike around town.  Sigh.  I am definitely bummed. 

April 22, 2014




I am overwhelmed by the response to yesterday’s post.  Gratitude and thank you are not big enough words for all the love, support, kindness and beauty that filled my inbox yesterday.  Each of you are in part responsible for this success.  Yes, I am the one who gets up and goes to the gym and is solely responsible for the food I eat.  BUT without your support and knowing that you are out there, reading my posts and cheering me on, I am not sure I could have kept going when the going got tough.  And it certainly has been tough at times – not eating the cake at my nephew’s first birthday?  What?!  That was surely a challenge.

So because Thank You is all I have, thank you all so much.  So so so much.

Now on to the next adventure – maintaining!  If I lose more, I lose more, but I am pretty much at my goal.  They say that losing is the easy part and maintaining is hard.  I guess we are going to find out!