All posts filed under: 30 Days

The End of Small Talk: I Called My Mother Every Day For 30 Days

The first few calls I made to my mother for TueNight’s 30-Day Challenge covered familiar territory: My youngest sister was visiting with her husband, so I filled Mom in on our adventures around New York City. She described the holiday meals she’d prepared back in California. We expressed reluctance to get rid of our respective Christmas trees. But after a week or so, I started to learn things about my family that I never before knew. On one occasion, for example, our conversation turned to catnapping. “Oh yeah, Grandpa loved James Herriot,” my mom told me, speaking of the publicity-shy veterinarian whose heartwarming stories of his country practice in Yorkshire sold millions of books in the ‘70s and ‘80s. “He loved James Herriot so much that when he and Grandma went to Cambridge on one of their trips, he grabbed a cat from outside their hotel and went to see him posing as a client.” [pullquote]The Challenge was undertaken with Mom’s knowledge: I didn’t want her to think I was suddenly in constant contact because, …

Ditching Sugar: Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

Oookay, so it appears I may have lied. I should’ve been specific about my no-sugar pledge. Because apparently I took advantage of a loophole that really meant “giving up cookies.” That would’ve been slightly more accurate and yet… still a lie. I defiantly and somewhat petulantly housed a chocolate chip cookie at around 9:45pm on December 31st. From that point in, I honestly did pretty well until about the second week in January. No sugar in my coffee, not even those Fage yogurts, which, as it turns out, have about a billion metric tons of sugar in them. I didn’t stop eating things like fruit, which, of course, contain natural sugars, or pasta which turns into maltose. Because life is too short and because a life spent scrutinizing labels is not a life I care to live and because that’s highly valuable time I could spend catching up on Millionaire Matchmaker. (The one with Jill Zarin’s daughter!!!) But I was very good about eliminating foods with added sugars. [pullquote]What I cut out of my diet in the sugar …

How I Survived a Month Without Takeout

During the month of January, I spent $30 on “takeout.” I don’t feel bad about that. Those were lattes and scones and slices of pumpkin bread that on snowy, sleety, generally awful days I could not resist. I also spent $1,500 on groceries. For the record, I didn’t count the convenience foods and drinks that were means to an end — another $100 or so over the course of the month that bought me a few hours refuge at a coffee shop to get through some email on a Saturday morning; or got me access to a “free” play space for my toddler; or work meetings with colleagues at cafés or restaurants. A little compare and contrast: In previous months, I’d spent approximately $800 in groceries and $1,000 in takeout. So, $1,500 vs. $1,800. THIS WAS NOT THE $1,000 WINDFALL I WAS EXPECTING. SHOUTYCAPS. [pullquote]Fridays, I have learned through this exercise, are not cooking days. Candy Crush and Seamless are what I need on Friday nights.[/pullquote] For $300 in savings, I cooked like a maniac every …

5 Things I Learned By Going Pants-Free For 30 Days

Wardrobe-wise, I was ready. My family bought me a handful of great new skirts, knowing 30 days without pants was going to be tough. I dug up a snug pencil skirt from the back of the closet. Pulled out a dress or two to dress down for everyday use. And shut the drawer on my jeans with a tiny whimper and a pathetic wave. “See ya next month, old friends.” Who knew that so trivial a resolution would take me to the heights of polished sophisticate and to the lows of mid-life neurotic with such deft ease? Who knew that an A-line skirt could make me beeline so quickly to either fabulous or fussy? Insight #1: If giving up an article of clothing can make such waves in my life, fear for me, friends, should I ever try to give up anything more serious. As I sit writing this today, cross-legged, in sweats (a position I sorely missed!), these are my top revelations from a January without jeans. The good, the bad and the superficial. …

Sorry I’m Not Sorry: Learning a New Lesson

I began my 30-day exercise to stop saying the words “sorry,” “totally” and “cool,” just by noticing how often I committed my crime. Like any habit one tries to tweak, I started by recognizing when and why I was saying these words. Quickly, I realized I actually don’t say totally or cool all that much, but, holy hell, I said “sorry” on an hourly basis — like a nervous tic. Sorry was the word to nip. “You do say it a lot,” said my Mom. Was my mother imparting some nugget of historical knowledge? “What do you mean? Like, all my life?” “Well I don’t know, no…  I’m noticing it now, too. Just stop it!” If only it were that easy. I said it bumping into people. I said it when we spontaneously asked a taxi driver to drop off a friend at a different location in Brooklyn. [pullquote]On the surface of things I get by very well — but often, I don’t meet my own expectations. So I apologize to the world.[/pullquote] “Sorry.” “Oh whatever,” …

Giving Up the Blame Game — And Finding Adventure

I gave up blaming others — or at least tried to — during the month of January. At times it was not easy, especially when we got locked out of the house. Or when the car battery died. Twice. I once blamed two people at work within a 10-minute span for screwing things up very badly. Naturally, I blame Montezuma for the stomach bug I contracted on the yoga retreat I took in Mexico in late January. But, overall, ending the blame game was deceptively easy. There were plenty of moments when I found myself searching for someone to point a finger at. Often, I took ownership of it. Other times, I simply let it go. And sometimes the outcome of screw-up/misstep/bad mistake led to something better. Case in point: We went to Kent, Connecticut for a few days over the Christmas holiday. On Christmas morning, I started making a glorious skillet of Melissa Clark’s shakshuka, a spicy Middle Eastern egg confection. Once the peppers, onions and tomatoes were all stewed together, I went into …

Don’t Forget to Call Your Mother… Every Day?

When I was in the first grade, my mother summoned me to our kitchen to take a phone call. “Hello?” I chirped, the chunky ‘80s receiver the same size as my blonde head. My classroom crush, a boy named Jamie, sang back in his best Stevie Wonder voice, “I just called / to say / I hate you,” and hung up. I never really forgave the telephone for that. I was a decidedly un-chatty teenager, my dorm phone gathered serious dust in college, and if unused cellular plan minutes were tangible things, I could swim in mine like Scrooge McDuck in his vault of gold coins. There are researchers stationed in Antarctica who use the phone more than I do. Big deal, right? Who makes old-fashioned calls these days, anyway? More than 40% of Americans don’t even have land lines, and many of us use our smartphones primarily for things like texting, shopping and taking grainy photos of our dinners. But the thing is, I left my mother, father, and sisters back in California when …

No Way Can I Give Up Sugar. But I’ll Torture Myself For 30 Days

The s’mores cookie from Gregory’s Coffee. The chocolate cookies from Smith Canteen. 16 Handles (insert flavor of the week here______________). Pinkberry with mochi. Oh my God the Fruit & Nut Five-Star Bar I never talk myself out of buying at the supermarket. Um, what else? Oh yeah. Dude. DUDE. DUUUUUDE. Those chocolate chip cookies (or sometimes the peanut butter ones, sometimes both) from Jacques Torres. The occasional pint of Ben & Jerry’s. 4 p.m. peanut butter M&Ms from the vending machine at work. Those crappy orange jelly rings — the generic two-toned ones COVERED in granulated sugar? Oh my God I love those. The ones from CVS? Lord, yes. And drugstore York Peppermint Patties? I’ll miss you most of all. These are a few of my favorite things made of sugar. My other favorite things made of sugar? Pretty much everything else made of sugar. Are you sensing the self-defeating, Sisyphean nature of the worst part of my diet? Who am I kidding. That’s not even the worst part of my diet (she says, as she …

Why Do I Blame Everyone Else?

I’m Lauren Young. I am the oldest of four children. I am a mother. I am an ex-wife. And I am a blameaholic. I blame everyone else when something bad happens to me. I blame others when I break a nail, lose my Metrocard or driver’s license, when I hurt my shoulder or when I find a brownie shoved into my rug after a holiday party. (All of these things happened in the past week, by the way.) Several years ago, I got laid off from a job that I loved during a takeover – I naturally blamed the acquirer, even though some of my colleagues moved to the new company. When my boyfriend moved in with me for the summer, I rearranged my closets so he would have more hanging space. During the closet switch, one of my favorite Kate Spade dresses was impaled by a wire hanger. I blamed him for the giant hole. Speaking of my boyfriend, he is terrified of being blamed. It’s gotten so bad that he prefaces everything with: …

I’m Going Pants-Free For a Month

For the month of January I have resolved to give up… pants. No, I’m not becoming a nudist. I am committing, for 30 days, to trade in my jeans, leggings, sweats, cords and trousers for bottoms of a prettier variety: namely, dresses and skirts. “It’ll be fun,” I tell myself. “Different! Like, a whole new me!” I have since come to realize that it will be hard. Maybe not as much fun as I’d first thought. Actually, it’s going to suck. There are surely more important things I could have chosen to give up — things that would make me healthier and less anxious. Like afternoon Nespressos, late-night shoe shopping, 2am email-answering, wine. But, as frequently as I partake in all of those activities, there is just one thing my husband and daughter jointly agreed I could never, ever, in a million years give up for a month straight, and it was pants. The gauntlet was thrown. “Ha! I’ll show you guys!” I said. (That was back when I thought it would be fun.) I …

Three Words I Want to Stop Saying

There are certain words I say all the time. As in (and I’ve counted) as often as 15 times a day. These words are defaults, slightly more illustrative “ums,” when I don’t have anything more creative, or specific, to say to you. Or I’m just being lazy, sorry. Oops! Let’s start with “sorry” — the worst, most classic offender, said in the most innocuous situations. Bumping into someone anytime, anywhere. When someone nudges in front of me on the subway (a terrible, knee-jerk reaction.) When I hear what you said, but it was so bizarre I need to hear it again. Sorry? Spacing out at packages of Selfie Sticks at the counter at Duane Reade and wondering if I really don’t need one last gift… if Selfie Sticks are, in a sense, a more inclusive photo accessory, allowing for more landscape, more people in your photo. So, then, is it really a “Selfie” Stick? The cashier clears her throat. “Ahem.” “Oh!” I wake up. “Sorry.” According to a 2010 study, we women do apologize more …

Takeout Takedown: Saying Goodbye to Delivered Food

I am giving up takeout. This is not about health. This is not about calories. This is not about honing my kitchen skills (they are great, thankyouverymuch). This is not about family time. This is not about putting a pause on my all-out consumerism. This is about money. According to my AmEx statement, last month my husband, Gabriel, and I spent $590.88 on restaurants. Since we didn’t go out for a date night in November — too much holiday and work travel, plus the cost of a babysitter, plus really, cozying up at home when the kid is asleep is a pretty blissful date — I know that that $590.88 is pure takeout. Wait a minute. The great sushi place on the corner doesn’t take AmEx. Neither does my neighborhood Thai, or burrito joint. Crap. My Visa takeout bill: $351.56. So, last month, we spent $942.44 on takeout. This is not included the random cash spent for a coffee or bodega snack here or there. Let’s just pretend that money wasn’t spent. Does cash even …