A health and fitness journalist for twenty years, Liz began her career in publishing as the EIC of a Cleveland magazine. In the 90’s she came to New York City, where she joined Fitness magazine as a deputy editor, then, seven years later, landed the coveted title of editor-in-chief of Prevention. Liz was attending BlogHer in part to talk about The Digest Diet, her second book on healthy eating and nutrition. Her first book, The Flat Belly Diet, was published in 2008.
With two books, twin daughters, and the enormous responsibility of escorting the venerable Reader’s Digest brand fully into the digital age, we naturally wanted to ask Liz the question we ask all parents on The Parent du Jour: how does she manage to combine it all?
HOMETOWN / WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW? Cleveland OH / New Jersey
ON THE WEB Reader’s Digest
NUMBER OF CHILDREN Twin girls (8 yo)
DAY JOB Editor-in Chief, Chief Content Officer, Reader’s Digest
RELATIONSHIP STATUS Married
FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK What children’s book is a favorite in your house and why?
My favorite book is Giraffes Can’t Dance. First of all, I love Africa and I love giraffes – the most graceful animal on the Serengeti. But mostly I cherish the message inside: that everyone can find music that they can dance to. It’s the children’s book embodiment of my parenting philosophy – if you look and listen hard enough, you will find the thing that lights you up. Every child deserves that.
HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY? How have you, or you and your partner, arranged your life/schedule to provide the daily care for your kid(s)?
First, I’m married to a husband who is extraordinarily supportive of my career, and our family. I think the secret to a successful, two working-parent family is one where both parents are fully committed to their family, and to their support of one another. I have described my husband, a remarkable photographer who travels for his business, as being “all-in”. Steven is high-energy and has enormous patience— two essential qualities for dealing with children! He really is my better half.
The second, equally important ‘secret’ behind my successful work-life balance is our babysitter, who has been taking care of the girls since they were five days old. Her family has become part of our family. We could not do what we do without her. All of our family lives in Cleveland and Steve travels quite a bit, so we rely heavily on her. A village is truly raising our girls!
The third piece of the puzzle was the extraordinary boss I had at Fitness Magazine, who made it possible for me to continue to succeed in my position at the same time I became a new mother (to twins!). At the executive level, you’re never entirely “off the clock”. But because of her support I was able to leave my office at 5:15 every night, so I could be with my babies from 6:30 to about 9pm, and then “return” to work remotely, online.
I’ve paid that support forward, in my new role at Reader’s Digest. We support and encourage all of our employees, not just parents, to seek a good work—life balance. So, some people adjust their schedule for activities with their kids, some take time to volunteer in the community or pursue a hobby. I come in very, very early, then leave promptly at 5 (well, sometimes 6) to spend time with my family in the evening. Other moms arrive later in the morning, but stay later in the day. Whatever works for everybody.
I’ve never had ‘mommy-guilt’ about the life I’ve created. It’s very important to me that my daughters know how much I love and value my work. I feel so privileged to lead this extraordinary brand, to work with such gifted professionals. I really feel that I ‘have it all’: a happy, healthy family and a job that fulfills and rewards me.
If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would choose to do exactly what I’m doing today.
HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?
I’m ruthless about my time. If a book isn’t good, I don’t finish it. If a television show isn’t brilliant, I don’t watch. Everything’s a choice. If I’m doing X, I’m not with them. And I find very few things outrank them.
IF PARTNERED, HOW HAS PARENTING AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP? How often do you have sex? Is it enough? How do you communicate differently (if at all).
I’m not going to lie to you. Having twins is a grueling experience. And I had a babysitter! I had a husband who was often home! The first four years of their life? We almost didn’t survive it.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?
I’m not good at doing the girls’ hair. They inevitably cry because I’m brushing too hard or I’ve pulled something and caused pain. I’d shave their heads if I could. It’s a daily nightmare.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?
My girls call me “the understander.” Believe me. I don’t understand most of what’s going on in those little brains, but, because I listen, because I truly try to know their feelings, they think I get it all.
I’m so grateful I’ve faked them out!