Emily Chau

Learning About LBL

February 25, 2010 at 11:52 am , by

Poise 1Meet our guest blogger (and intern) Shara Hikmet!

As I arrived in New York from my native England to begin work as an editorial intern at Ladies’ Home Journal, I was excited for the glitz and glamour that a magazine had to offer. Would I get to attend fabulous fashion parties, would I be whisked away to South Beach to help out at a photo shoot, would George Clooney finally realize his true feelings for me during an interview?

So imagine my excitement when I was asked to attend an event hosted by none other than Miss Whoopi Goldberg. I have admired her ever since I watched Sister Act and felt inspired to become a gospel-singing nun. I didn’t mind that the topic of the event (um, light bladder leakage, or LBL), and sponsored by Poise, was slightly less than glam. Undaunted by the raging snowstorm, I got there only to learn that Goldberg was MIA due to the weather. Still, I was pleasantly surprised to enter a room adorned with pink décor and entertaining photo booths. I had fun sipping on my pink grapefruit juice and posing in Statue of Liberty garb.

It was apparent that Poise is trying to bring lightness and humor to this unspoken subject. Goldberg has teamed up with the brand to help remove the stigma and embarrassment connected with LBL. She created hilarious webisodes, starring as eight famous women in history who confide their personal stories and regrets of not talking about their LBL.

As Goldberg joined us via Skype, I was surprised to discover that LBL is common, affecting one in every three women. It also affects women of all ages and life stages. Weak pelvic floor muscles often cause LBL, usually due to obesity, pregnancy, childbirth or hysterectomy. The event was quite an eye-opener, and despite not getting to meet Goldberg, I had a lovely time talking to women facing this issue. I also left with a goodie bag filled with Poise products specifically designed for LBL. Hmmm…maybe I should give those kegel exercises a try!

Photo (left to right): Shara Hikmet, Sara Kay and Alyssa Bleiberg

Is It Okay To Be Fat?

February 24, 2010 at 2:49 pm , by

IMG_5615Is it OK to be fat?

It’s not a trick question. The answer isn’t as obvious as it seems.

A couple of weeks ago, I got to watch a taping of a Nightline Face-Off that tackled this very issue. Moderated by Good Morning America news anchor Juju Chang, the debate pitted Marianne Kirby, blogger and advocate for the fat acceptance movement, and Crystal Renn, the highest-paid plus-size model, against Meme Roth, president of the National Action Against Obesity and Kim Bensen, author of Finally Thin. It was a heated discussion, to say the least, and their conversation touched on everything from fat-phobia to anorexia, and from genetics to yo-yo dieting. Watch the show here.

But back to the question at hand: Is it OK to be fat? I think we have to first look at what do we mean by “OK”? (Is it healthy to be fat? Is it somehow morally or socially wrong to be fat, and therefore okay to discriminate against those who are?) Second, how are we defining “fat”? (Waist size? Percentage body fat? BMI?)

However, let’s put semantics aside and look at the science. On the one hand: People who are overweight tend to live longer than their skinnier counterparts, according to McGill researchers. On the other hand: Living longer isn’t much of an advantage if your quality of life is compromised. We also know that being overweight or obese (as defined by BMI) increases your odds for diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, arthritis, sleep apnea and more. On the one hand: You can be fit and fat. Half of overweight people and one-third of obese people still have healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels, says a 2008 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Meanwhile, a quarter of normal-weight individuals were found to have two risk factors for heart disease. On the other hand: It’s better to be fit and trim than fit and fat. Active women with normal BMI have a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease than those who exercise and are overweight, says another study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

So what do you think? Are Americans fat-phobic? Is it okay to be fat?

Photo (left to right): Emily Chau, Marianne Kirby, Juju Chang, Kim Bensen, Meme Roth

Are You Giving Up Something for Lent?

February 17, 2010 at 1:32 pm , by

gchatThis might sound silly, but in the spirit of Lent, I’m giving up Gchat/AIM.*

I’m addicted to the Internet. Facebook, Twitter, email, you name it. My particular “vice”: GChat. I love chatting. I need chatting. In this fast-food-fast-cars-fast-lane age of interconnectedness, the interwebs keeps me up-to-date with my friends, family and coworkers. It’s not all a bad thing. How else could I conduct five conversations at the same time?

But it also keeps me distracted. Women are good multi-taskers (we’re women after all), but we also need to slow things down. I have a sneaky suspicion that if we took some time to pause and reflect on our lives—our work lives, personal lives and spiritual lives—we’d feel a little saner, a little more grounded.

Are you giving up something for Lent? Or doing something to better yourself during Lent? (Hint, hint: This is also the perfect time to rededicate yourself to those New Year’s fitness resolutions).

*Okay, maybe no GChat after 7pm.

Photo courtesty of enda_001

Women Still Don’t Know About Heart Disease

February 10, 2010 at 1:30 pm , by


Last week, Julie and I went to a Go Red for Women dinner, part of the American Heart Association’s campaign to increase knowledge for women’s heart disease. Besides catching up with AHA president, the wonderful Clyde Yancy, M.D., we got to hear some shocking heart stats.

The AHA revealed the findings from its newest study about women’s awareness of cardiovascular disease (CVD), headed by Lori Mosca, M.D., Ph.D., the lively, marathon-running professor of medicine and director of preventive cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.

A quick summary:

1. Awareness that CVD is the leading cause of death among women has almost doubled since 1997. Still, only 54 percent of women know that CVD is the leading cause of death among women (vs. 30 percent in 1997).

2. Only about half of women know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Plus, only half of women would call 911 if they thought they were having one.

3. More than half of women rely on unproven therapies to prevent CVD, including taking a multivitamin (69 percent), antioxidants (70 percent) and aromatherapy (29 percent).

That’s us with Dr. Yancy –>


Cupcakes to Support Haiti Relief

January 27, 2010 at 6:25 pm , by

cupcake-02Check out this sweet deal offered by New York City’s famed Magnolia Bakery: The Red Cross Cupcake ($3). During the rest of January and February, Magnolia will donate $1 to the American Red Cross Haiti Relief Fund for every Red Cross cupcake sold.

The details: Red Cross Cupcake, Magnolia’s classic vanilla-vanilla cupcake (vanilla cake, vanilla buttercream frosting) topped with red sprinkles in the shape of the Red Cross logo.

Locations after the jump…

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Extraordinary Measures Review

January 22, 2010 at 12:55 pm , by

Untitled Crowley Project

Inspired by a real life story, Extraordinary Measures is a tearjerker of a tale.  John Crowley (Brendan Fraser) is a rising corporate star and loving family man, but two of his kids have Pompe disease, a neuromuscular disorder. Told that they have a year left to live, Crowley gives up his high paying job and enlists the help of researcher Dr. Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford) to design a miracle drug.  What Stonehill lacks in interpersonal skills (and funding), he makes up in terms of brilliance, and the two begin an unlikely partnership. Working around the clock, Crowley and Stonehill race for a cure while battling the hurdles of big pharma and each other.

Extraordinary Measures adds an interesting perspective to the ongoing health care debate.  Crowley comes up hard against the realities of pharma: It’s not personal, it’s business. More inspired by dollar signs than the faces of the disease, these companies will only invest if the drug seems profitable.

But in the end, big, bad pharma comes out as being not-quite-so-evil after all.  While their bottom line philosophy sounds cruel, their need for objectivity is actually quite necessary. The movie tugs on your heartstrings and unless you are devoid of human compassion, you can’t help but become emotionally invested in the Crowleys’ crusade.  Interestingly, it’s this very type of emotional involvement that the pharmaceutical company warns Crowley against.  Passion and personal interest may drive research, but in the end, the science has to speak for itself.

Photo courtesy of CBS Films

How Accurate Are Calorie Counts, Anyway?

January 6, 2010 at 2:42 pm , by

fast foodI always groan a little when I read the calorie counts displayed next to each coffee, cake and cappuccino in Starbucks. A while ago, New York City passed a law requiring restaurant chains to post the number of calories in their foods. And believe me, it was a shock to find out how much could be hidden in a blueberry muffin.

The real kicker? These calorie labels may not even accurately reflect what you’re eating. According to a new study by Tufts University, the actual number of calories in quick-serve and sit-down restaurant foods may be about 18 percent higher than what’s printed on the menu. Frozen food meals can exceed their stated calorie counts by 8 percent. The FDA only requires that the actual caloric value packaged food be no more than 20 percent of its stated amount (there’s no range for restaurant foods). But for people trying to lose weight, those extra “hidden” calories can make a difference.

So when eating out, what can you do? Keep in mind these tips.

1. Beware of “free” side dishes: When you look at your entrée’s calorie count, be sure to factor in the extra calories from any side dishes. Side dishes alone can double your caloric intake at a meal.

2. Split an entrée or set aside half of your portion to take home. It’s probably a more accurate portion size.

Photo via ebruli