Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Love, Baci Romo

How's Your Belly?

Mine isn't my problem area (that would be my thunder thighs!), but I notice that as I get older, my waistline is becoming less defined. I thought this was an interesting article that I'd share with you guys on how to cut that pesky ab flab (it's more helpful than just "quit eating Twinkies and start running)!

How appropriate on Halloween, right? Leave it to Mer! ;)

Love, Mer


The Best Way to Beat Belly Flab
By Mindy Berry
Studies show that ab fat is dangerous to your health. Here's how food, exercise, and even body confidence can help you lose it for good -- and lower your health risks.

The Facts on Fat

All fat is not created equal. Abdominal fat, particularly the visceral fat stored deep inside, is much more dangerous than the flab on your hips, butt, or thighs. The reason: Location, location, location. Think of it this way: Your liver and pancreas are like stately apartment buildings -- they're efficient, well-oiled machines that have been there forever. Belly fat is like the loud, disruptive neighbor who buys the building next door and turns it into an all-night dance club and lets the whole place go to seed. Before you know it, there goes the neighborhood.

But this toxic fat doesn't have to take up permanent residence next to these vital organs. Groundbreaking research shows that exercise may be the key to blasting it off your belly. Results of a 20-week study at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, found that women who exercised and dieted reduced abdominal fat-cell size by about 18 percent; women who only counted calories lost weight but didn't reduce fat-cell size. Generally, the greater the fat-cell size, the greater the amount of abdominal fat. The good news: When you start working out and watching what you eat, toxic abdominal fat may be the first fat you shed, says Donald Hensrud, MD, an associate professor of nutrition at the Mayo Clinic.

To fight flab effectively, it helps to understand exactly what you're targeting. Here's what lies beneath:

Subcutaneous fat is right under your skin. It's commonly found in your thighs, butt, and abdomen. "When our hunter-gatherer ancestors would eat all summer preparing for the winter famine, their bodies would store fat there before using it up," says Kylie Kavanagh, a researcher at Wake Forest University. But this fat isn't necessary -- or healthy -- today. It's also significantly more dangerous when it's in your abdomen, because it can adversely affect your internal organs.

Muscle is the next layer down. More muscle means you burn calories faster, which helps with weight loss. And since it's denser and more compact than fat, muscle gives you a strong, lean look. So build it up, baby!

Visceral or "toxic" fat: Found deep in your abdomen, this is the true troublemaker. Visceral fat has access to your portal circulation, the highway of blood vessels around your organs, and it likes to hop on. This can affect your liver's ability to manage cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart disease, says Pamela Peeke, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, author of Body for Life for Women and a FITNESS advisory board member. "Not only that, but visceral fat causes insulin -- the hormone responsible for storing fat -- to become less effective, making you more susceptible to diabetes," Dr. Peeke says. Studies have also linked excess visceral fat to an increased risk of breast cancer, although experts do not fully understand the connection.

Bad Habits That Make Your Belly Bigger

Now that you've got a clear picture of the enemy within, it's time to fight back -- and win. That means getting rid of as much abdominal fat as possible, no matter which type it is. "Subcutaneous or visceral, all fat in the abdomen can have negative effects on your health," says Dr. Hensrud. "It's important to target both."

The lifestyle choices you make every day directly influence the size of your tummy -- and we're not just talking about food. So...

Stop being quite so happy at happy hour.
If you drink in moderation -- no more than one cocktail a day -- the calories from the alcohol will likely burn off. But when you overdo it, they end up turning into fat in your abdomen. Experts say this is because alcohol inhibits fat-burning in the stomach, although no one fully understands how or why. As a result, calories from alcohol are more likely to become part of your visceral fat layer, making the possibility of developing a beer (or margarita or wine) gut all too real.

Stop lighting up.
Like alcohol, nicotine prevents fat-burning in the abdomen. So smokers are likely to have a greater amount of visceral fat than nonsmokers do, even if they're not overweight, says Dr. Hensrud. "Studies have found that smokers tend to have a lower body-mass index than nonsmokers do, but the dangerous abdominal fat they often carry cancels out any positive effects."

Stop eating trans fats.
According to a new study, these artery-clogging fats are more likely to go straight to your belly than other types. Wake Forest University researchers fed monkeys the same amount of calories, but one group got some of its fat from trans fats and the other got all of its fat from heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. The monkeys on the trans-fats diet gained nearly four times as much weight and had 30 percent more fat in their abdomens than the primates who ate the healthy fat. "One theory is that the body doesn't know what to do with this man-made fat, and the abdomen is a quick place to store it," says lead researcher Kavanagh. "Another idea is that trans fats interfere with insulin and its job to distribute fat throughout the body." The American Heart Association recommends eating as little trans fats as possible -- less than two grams a day. Easy ways to do that:

Read the ingredients list on snack foods labeled "0 grams trans fats." One serving of these products may contain 0.49 grams of this unhealthy fat. "The higher that partially hydrogenated oils are on the ingredients list, the more likely it is that a product has close to 0.5 gram of trans fats a serving," says Lona Sandon, RD, an American Dietetic Association spokesperson in Dallas. So dole out just one portion of crackers or cookies and then put the box away.

Make your own muffins -- or cake or cookies. The baked goods sold at convenience stores and coffee-and-doughnut shops are likely full of trans fats, says Ellie Krieger, RD, host of Healthy Appetite on the Food Network. When you bake your own, using healthy ingredients such as canola oil and fresh fruit, you eliminate these fats.

Hold the fried foods. "It's not necessarily the oil that's unhealthy, but that the frying process changes the chemical structure of it, leading to an excess of trans fats," explains Sandon. Unless a restaurant boasts that it's serving trans-fat-free foods -- as do Wendy's, KFC, and Arby's -- you can assume you're getting a substantial side of it with those onion rings.

Smart Habits That Will Slim Your Stomach

Start working out.
Regular heart-pumping exercise is one of the most effective ways to get fat off your middle. "Diet alone may reduce your weight, but it probably won't change your body's shape the way exercise can," says Tongjian You, PhD, now an assistant professor in exercise and nutrition sciences at SUNY Buffalo and lead researcher for the groundbreaking Wake Forest study on fat-cell size. "Abdominal fat may be more active and responsive to exercise than fat in other areas," he says. So get moving!

Start eating healthy fats.
To lose flab around your middle, you don't have to cut every bit of fat out of your diet. The key is to get about 30 percent of your daily calories from fat, primarily heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, which could help you live longer (plus, you'll be less likely to crave the unhealthy kinds). New research from the Harvard Nurses' Health Study found that women who ate a diet rich in healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocados, and nuts, slashed their risk of heart disease -- the number-one killer of women -- by as much as 33 percent. Try adding some almonds to your afternoon yogurt and cook with olive oil as often as possible.

Start getting at least seven hours of shut-eye a night.
James Gangwisch, PhD, a researcher at Columbia University Medical Center, has the most compelling lights-out research we've heard. In his review of thousands of women, he found that those who slept five hours a night were almost twice as likely to be obese as women who got seven hours. Studies show that lack of sleep can make you hungrier -- it knocks the appetite-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin out of whack, so you crave sweet, salty snacks. And it can increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which may be associated with abdominal fat.

Start playing your cards right.
"Think of your genes as the hand you're dealt in a game of poker," says Dr. Hensrud. "It may not be as good as you'd like, but it's how you play that matters." This is particularly true if you're apple shaped (meaning that you store fat around your abdomen) rather than pear shaped (fat goes to your hips and thighs first). "For optimal health, we should all eat less junk food, exercise regularly, drink in moderation, and not smoke," says Dr. Hensrud. "But these steps are even more important for people who are apple shaped, because they are at increased risk of diabetes and heart disease." By staying at a healthy weight and keeping your waist size well under 35 inches earlier in life, you're setting yourself up to stay trim as you get older, when your risk for developing many diseases increases.

Start loving your body.
Research shows that when women feel bad about their weight and themselves, they're more likely to give up on their diet goals and eat too much. So do things that make you feel good -- and that are good for you. Take a walk. Treat yourself to a massage. Before you know it, that extra ab flab will be nothing but a fleeting memory.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, March 2007.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Excuse moi?

I was reading the MSN music news today and there's a link to check out Britney's new CD, and I decided to be open-minded about it and check it out. And people, it's actually really good!! So you probably have to like trance-y electronic dance music to really dig it, but as The Mer Show readers well know, I DO. Most of the lyrics are atrocious, hyper-sexualized "get naked, get naked, take it off, take it off", and generally make no sense (she meows in one song), but the beats are so good, it doesn't matter to me.

Anyway, if you're feeling adventurous today, I recommend that you check out the really entertaining train wreck:

Love, Mer

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New Pics of the Pup

A picture says a thousand words, so there's not much I need to say about this little animal who makes my life happier every single day!

Enjoy! Love, Mer

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

SD Update

So as I sit in my apartment, transfixed on my television and watching the conflagrations that are destroying my beautiful city, I just can't seem to process the fact that this is all happening about 15 miles away from me! The fires just seem to be growing and growing, and don't seem to be able to get contained. I guess the weather is part of the problem - it's dry, hot, and the wind is blowing like crazy (in one location, 70+mph!)... Hopefully the winds die down and stop facilitating the growth of these fires!! Some rain might be nice - Houston, New Orleans, could you please send us some???

For any SD peeps that might be reading this, please drop me a line if I can help you with a safe place to stay, or if you need help with your pet - Baci and I would be glad to help. Otherwise, someone just sent me a list of places that are offering free boarding:

VCA Hillcrest Animal Hospital

Phone: 619-299-7387

Fax: 619-299-7396

246 West Washington Street

San Diego, CA 92103

VCA Angel Animal Hospital

Phone: 619-291-0042

Fax: 619-291-0239

3537 30th Street

San Diego, CA 92104

VCA Emergency Animal Hospital & Referral Ctr.

Phone: 619-299-2400

Fax: 619-299-0413

2317 Hotel Circle South

San Diego, CA 92108

VCA Main Street Animal Hospital

Phone: 619-232-7401

Fax: 619-232-7034

2773 Main Street

San Diego, CA 92113

VCA West Bernardo Animal Hospital

Phone: 858-485-7570

Fax: 858-485-5781

11605 Duenda Road, Suite D

San Diego, CA 92127

I dropped off some things at Qualcomm last night and am just about to help Urban Kitchen deliver about 300 sandwiches to Escondido High School, a Red Cross evacuation spot. I can't encourage all of my pals in SD enough (who aren't adversely affected by this tragedy) to use your time and energy to help out our neighbors. For places to volunteer, please check out these opportunities:

1) 2-1-1 is seeking volunteers to help in the next 72 hours to take calls and/or fill other roles at 2-1-1 should that be needed. Shifts are about four hours and training is available. If interested, email Meg Storer at mstorer@211sandiego.orgwith your name, phone number where you can be reached, your email address, and the dates/times that work best with your schedule. A 2-1-1 person will contact you directly once you send that information.

2) Individuals who wish to volunteer can go to the Red Cross Spontaneous Volunteer Center at Horizon Christian Fellowship, 5331 Mt. Alifan Drive (one block south of Balboa and Genesee) in the Clairemont area. Center hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. until further notice. Individuals can also call and leave contact information at 858-309-1261. Over 600 new volunteers were processed through the center Monday so you should probably call first. PLEASE DO NOT GO DIRECTLY TO ANY OF THE EVACUATION SITES, they are not staffed to accept new volunteers at this time as they help evacuees.

3) Visit the Red Cross and Volunteer San Diego websites for updates and more ways to help. and

Gotta go. Please continue to keep the fire victims in your thoughts!! Mer

Monday, October 22, 2007

San Diego is on Fire

So I'm sure that most of you have seen on the news that there are wildfires raging across San Diego right now. Fortunately, I live right on the coast in downtown San Diego and am very safe, but there are many people here that are not as lucky. I'm actually quite concerned about some friends of mine who live up north and in the way of danger. I tried calling them, but can't reach them. Say a prayer for my friends, please.

Right now there are about 12 fires burning that are threatening most of North San Diego and my office is going to be closed for the next couple of days. After a mellow weekend, I was pretty ready to get back to work and be productive, so I was a little bummed to be at home again today. Baci is driving me crazy - he's in puppy mode this morning, peeing on things, stealing my pens and running from me, barking at the front door, etc. etc. etc. If I didn't put him in his crate a few minutes ago, I would have eventually committed dog-icide!!!!

Anyway, I'll be at home over the next couple of days, but am advised to stay off my cell. Send me funny emails, k? :)

Love, Mer

p.s. OH, and I fell off the wagon Saturday and am eating again. I'm a big, fat loser for not finishing what I started, but for some reason, the lemonade was just *repulsive* to me this time and I couldn't drink it!!! So without that nourishment, I just couldn't make it. But I do feel like I cleaned out a bit, and look less bloated. And I'm not craving meat or caffeine, so at least I broke myself of those habits!! :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Master Cleanse, Part Deux

Well peeps, it’s that time of year again! The master cleanse is calling my name and I am answering the call. It’s going to be a very different experience this time, I believe. Shayne just went through the process for the 2nd time, so I sort of know what to expect from her experience. I think it’s going to be a little bit better knowing what to expect this time, but who knows?

The purpose of my cleansing is not to lose weight (although it IS a benefit), but to clean out my system from all the bad stuff I put in it… caffeine (although I drink much less these days), sweetener (ditto), meat, hormones, alcohol, and other toxins. I have been sick a lot this last couple of months, and my allergies have been torturing me, so I hope that cleaning out my body and starting anew will kickstart my immune system and keep me healthy throughout the holidays.

And I do have to admit that looking fabulous for the upcoming Junior League gala, my 32nd birthday, and through the holidays is going to be a huge benefit, too… hehehe

Tonight is the “last supper” before the cleanse and I plan to make it a good one! Lots of wine and cheese and all my favorite things! I will drink the tea before I go to bed, and in the morning, it’s 240 hours of cleansing…

Wish me luck!!!

Love, Mer

Monday, October 08, 2007

Exciting Announcement!

Well, friends and family, I have very good news. After 2.5 years of living with my awesome roommate, Prasad, I have rented a new one bedroom condo and am moving out on my own again. It’s been a great 2.5 years with Prasad – he’s been the best roommate I’ve ever had, hands down – but it’s just time for me to live on my own again. As you know from past postings, Shayne has moved out of San Diego – on to bigger and better things – and I have rented her condo. It’s a lovely space, and before she left, put in new carpet and had it painted, so it’s like a brand new place!

I'll still be living in the same building, but just moving from one apartment to another. I'll still have access to all the goodies that come with living in my building - the huge pool and barbecue/ party area on the 10th floor, the jacuzzi, gym, door guys - but NOW I have a parking spot. Hallelujah!! (Take THAT, meter maid bitches - Lady Marmalade has a home now and is sheltered from your putrid yellow envelopes!)

And I'll be able to hang out on the couch in my undies, eat ice cream and watch chick flicks ALL I WANT! I can leave dishes in the sink and clothes in the dryer without feeling bad, eat crappy food without anyone in the world knowing, live without worrying about Jasmine eating all of mine and Baci’s food, sleep with the bedroom door open, and basically do whatever I want, whenever I want. Yea!!!

I know that Baci is going to miss his girlfriend, Jasmine, but I’ll do my best to keep him in good company.

Anyway, just wanted to let you guys know the good news. Have a great week!

Love, Mer

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Movie Review: Superbad

Wow. This movie is supremely FOUL, but if you know me, I have absolutely no problem with that – in fact, I sort of enjoy it. :) But holy mother of Pete, Superbad was hilarious!

This flick follows one day in the life of a trio of really geeky friends who are about to graduate from high school in 2 weeks. It’s basically The Girl Next Door meets Dazed and Confused meets 40 Year Old Virgin. I’m not going to ruin the movie, because I highly recommend seeing it, but be prepared for some very clever, yet very wet, humor! I love it when a movie catches me off guard with its plot and dialogue and this one definitely did. One major theme in the flick is the male reproductive member, so if you have a problem with hearing about it repetitvely throughout the 1.5 hour run time, don’t bother seeing it. Otherwise, go see it this weekend and report back to me on Monday.

Have a great weekend! Go Horns, beat those scandalous Sooners! Love, Mer

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Mer Show Turns One

Happy anniversary to me! One year ago, I started keeping track of my demented and unremarkable thoughts, my crazy life events, and communicating with my long distance friends through The Mer Show. It's been so much fun and I hope that some of you have enjoyed it too...

Highlights through the year include:

*Introducing Baci to the world
*Getting laid off from Blue Oasis Technologies
*Fasting for 10 days (the Master Cleanse)
*Buying Lady Marmalade
*Getting towed twice in one year and lamenting scores of parking tickets
*Britney got divorced, Paris got arrested, and Mario won Dancing With The Stars
*Making new friends and losing some others
*Saving Davis the cat!
*I finally saw the Padres win at Petco Park
*I committed to the Chargers, the spinning bike, Barack Obama, and living as vegetarian as possible
*Watching my gorgeous nephew Finley grow into a little boy

It's certainly been interesting! Thanks for tuning into The Mer Show, and let's hope that the next year is just as exciting, but the most successful one ever for me and all of my friends and family.

Love, Mer

Monday, October 01, 2007

F Towing Companies

How do I hate thee, tow truck businesses... let me count the ways!

You take our cars away surreptitiously and scare the crap out of us thinking that our cars are stolen, then make us pay you $300+ just for the opportunity to regain what is rightfully ours anyway. You drive around with your big, bulky trucks and prey on good people that likely have legitimate reasons for having our cars in the wrong place at the right time. And most of the time, when you STEAL our cars away from us, you end up damaging our property. One of you actually wrote on my windshield once with permanent marker once and the jerk that stole my car this weekend actually left a light on in my car, draining my battery so low that it shorted out my entire electrical system! Poor Lady Marmalade is at the car doctor today getting a complete therapeutic treatment after getting so badly abused on Saturday night... This makes me extremely upset (and broke)!

How do you jerks live with yourselves? Do you hang out with meter maids at night, drinking beers, and laughing about whose day you ruined? Do you brainstorm about ways to screw over good people or damage our cars? Do you eat babies for breakfast to find the inner hate necessary to perform this job? You’ve obviously never had your car yanked from your possession and experienced the utter frustration of paying every single fee that could possibly exist just to get your car back… because if you had, you wouldn’t be able to sleep at night!

Tow truck drivers… I HATE YOU!

No love, Mer