Category Archives: calories

Surviving Summer Holidays (and Wedding Season!)

Ah summer, a time of relaxation and fun in the sun.  Right?  Sure, but a lot of that fun involves food and booze, and when you’re trying to get in or stay in shape, that can be more than a little stressful. On top of that, May through September is a time notorious for being (the sometimes dreaded) wedding season.  This means lots of champagne toasts, wedding cake, and sugary wedding favors – along with potential difficulty zipping up that bridesmaid’s dress.  So what do you do when faced with all of these challenges?  Avoid parties and BBQs altogether?  Vow not to touch the spread at any family picnics?  With a few tweaks to how you approach events, you can have your burger and eat it too.

Tip 1: Decide on what you reeeeeallly love

Is potato salad your all-time fave, or are you more of a strawberry shortcake kind of girl?  Does the five-tier wedding cake look a-maz-ing, or are you drooling over the entrée being served?  What do you love – and what could you do without?  Think about how you normally operate, and stick with that.  If you don’t normally love sweets, and the chocolate chip cookies or wedding cake appear cheap and store-bought, then go for the savory appetizers you do love!  After all, if it’s wedding cake you’re missing out on this time, you’ll likely have the chance to indulge in it once a month for the next five months anyway.

Tip 2: Socialize first

Do not, I repeat, do not head straight for the food.  First of all, most of us aren’t usually so starving when we arrive at these events that we must eat immediately (this is why every health article you’ve ever read says that it’s a good idea to have a healthy snack before!). At least I know I’m not.  When I do want to eat right away, it’s less because my stomach is rumbling, and more because I’ve spotted my cousin’s amazing Texas salsa.  So to avoid monopolizing the whole bowl, I need to catch up with family I haven’t seen in a while first.  At weddings, go congratulate the family before you hit up the cheese plate (ahem, or the open bar).  The truth is, many of us will go back for seconds of a few things, and maybe even thirds, so we can keep from grazing for the entire duration of the event if we don’t start immediately.  Plus, isn’t chatting with friends and family what these summer celebrations are all about?

Tip 3: Make smart swaps

This one can be a little trickier when you are only presented with what your host provides.  Eat whole wheat if it’s available, and go for the less caloric spreads when it comes to picnic sandwiches and burgers.  Mix some more fresh veggies in with that potato or pasta salad.  At weddings, chose lower-cal mixers for those drinks (again, watch that open bar!), and choose the healthier salad dressing if more than one is offered.  And hey, if your date isn’t the world’s biggest green fan (a lot of guys I know aren’t), see if he’ll swap his veggies for your potatoes.    

Tip 4: Get moving before the event

You know the drill – calories in shouldn’t exceed calories out.  So make sure you burn some extra before you indulge that day.  Plus, I can almost guarantee you won’t want to exercise after you find yourself in a food coma or after you’ve had that third vodka tonic (actually, I recommend staying away from the treadmill after this one).

Tip 5:  Pick one vice and stick to it. 

Ok, this one goes along with Tip #1 to a certain extent.  At these events, it can be almost impossible to be a perfect angel when it comes to your choices.  But the thing is, you don’t have to be.  You are likely to indulge a little (which is more than fine every once in a while!), so try to just indulge in one area.  Don’t have three burgers, four desserts, and ten beers.  Pick one of those celebratory vices and stick with it.  I’m not saying three burgers is OK (unless they’re teeny?), but I’m saying that you’ll feel a whole lot less guilty about it if that’s the only thing you splurged on.  Same with weddings.  If you want to get hammered because you’re back with all of your high school friends, then, well, I’m not going to stop you (mostly because I suppose that would be a bit hypocritical to say the least), but just don’t eat your wedding favor cookie along with everyone else’s at the table.  Your hangover will be enough without you feeling chock full of white sugar and flour.

Has summer party and wedding season begun for you yet?  How are you dealing with it?  Do you have any other tips to making surviving these (fun!) events easier?

My First Guest Post and March Goals

Hey guys! So although I’ve been a slacka over here, I have been doing SOME writing! Check out Chandra’s Shenanigans for a guest post from yours truly (first one!) on how I made the transition from working at a desk to spending my days in the gym. I know I kind of already wrote about it here, but it was fitting to write about it over there because she did the same thing! Granted, she was a little smarter about it, transitioning slowly, and not just saying ‘Eff you, corporate desk job’ and quitting completely, but still. Read the rest of this entry

Link Love and In Response to Anonymous #2

I am so so sorry I’ve neglected the blog, but this week has been crazy!  This was the last week of the month, meaning I was working 13 to 15 hour days and didn’t even have time to breathe, let alone blog.  Anyway, for now, I want to leave you with a few awesome links that really hit home with me this week.  If you aren’t already following these bloggers, I suggest you check them out!

First up, Gena from Choosing Raw wrote an amazing essay on embracing our appetites… for everything.  As a feminist and a woman, I can totally relate to this.  For a major chunk of my life, I was so focused on being the ‘good girl’ or the ‘skinny girl’ that I ignored everything and anything I was craving.  This essay really brings to light the fact that many of us do this all the time.  

Next, my good friend Rachel from Shedding It & Getting It wrote a few awesome posts related to the same idea.  Her first one about going with her cravings and deciding not to justify to herself or anyone else what she wanted was so inspiring that I just had to smile.  She also wrote one a few days ago about “Your Unruly Appetite” that was inspired by Gena’s post.  My favorite line? “Sometimes a girl needs to eat. And get laid. It’s biology, people — not a big f****** deal.” (Man, my parents are going to love that one…Hi, Mom!).

Another blogger, Kristin from Cook, Bake, and Nibble, talked about her experiences with disordered eating and denying herself as well.  Since it was NEDAwareness week, she talked about her struggles with body image and food.  I love the honesty of all of these ladies this week!

And one last thing before I go, I really wanted to address a comment left on my last post ‘Are Eating Disorders Contagious?‘  The second anonymous comment had this to say: “It sounds like you have an eating disorder and have had it since college. That’s what therapy is for. I don’t know if you can begin to get healthy until you face your demons and not project them on to your surroundings. I hope you take the steps to get help.” While I appreciate the honesty, and I think everyone has a right to state his or her opinion, I did want to discuss this one.  First of all, when I state my opinion in this way, I at least own up to it.  I wish “Anonymous #2” had done the same. 

However, I would like to say to this commenter (and everyone else reading) that I have never denied having an eating disorder in college.  I had major control issues, and what I was doing was not healthy.  And I did get help.  Therapy got me my sanity back, and I give a ton of credit to the counselor who got me through so much at UMich.  And now, for the first time in a long time, I’m not counting calories and I’m not freaking out over every minute of cardio I miss or about every morsel of food that goes into my mouth.  The point of this post was to say that I am finally sane, but I know I still need to be careful because recovery doesn’t happen overnight.  I am not blaming anyone at work for any residual issues I have, just stating that I need to watch myself in that kind of environment so that I can take preventative measures to keep myself from going back to that darker place.  In the same way that someone might load up on vitamin C to keep from catching a cold that’s going around, I am forcing myself to notice what everyone is doing so that I don’t lose what I’ve fought so hard to get back — my health and my sanity.  I’m not saying I don’t still have a ways to go, but please belive that I am healthier and I am not ‘projecting my demons’ onto the amazing people with whom I work.     

To everyone else who left comments, thank you!  Your support and the fact that you read means the world to me!  And you know what, thank you to Anon #2 as well, because it’s important to address these things, and you gave me the opportunity to do so.

Hope everyone is having a fab weekend!  What you think of the links posted?  How do you feel about cravings and trying to control our appetites?  And for all of you bloggers or writers out there, how do you address the less-than-positive comments?  Do you address them at all?         

Are Eating Disorders Contagious?

Lately at work, everyone has been sick! We all have colds right now, and it probably doesn’t help that we all hang out with each other for 14 hours at a time on very little sleep at a super germy gym. We’re totally passing it back and forth to one another.

At the same time, a lot of us here are working towards certain fitness goals and training for sports or competitions, especially with summer coming up. Being trainers, we’re all pretty committed to it, but I’m starting to get a little hyperaware of what I’m doing, how much I’m training, and what I’m eating. While I like the discipline I’m getting back, I’m also getting a little nervous about how much I’m starting to think about my training and my diet. Because the guys are constantly talking about their food and calories and how much weight they need to cut and how if they don’t puke they aren’t working out hard enough, I’ve caught myself thinking about these same things. A lot.

The thing is, I really don’t want to. Yes, I want to be healthy and make conscious choices about my food and workouts, but I don’t want it to escalate to obsession. Because I’ve been there before, and I have no desire to let being a certain weight or size completely run my life again. In college, I was so focused on keeping my weight down (at a weight that was far too low for me, in fact), that I planned out every little thing I put in my mouth (planning isn’t bad, but the level to which I did it was ridiculous), and I ended up putting so much stress on my body with exercise that my period stopped.

So I think you can understand why getting anywhere near that territory again scares me. Before, I was influenced by other people too. All of my friends being fixated on their weight and food put in my head that I should be too. I sort of ‘caught’ disordered eating habits from the women around me (and maybe society as a whole, but that’s another post). Here it’s a bunch of guys with “athletic goals,” so no one says they have eating disorders. They admire each others’ commitment, even though sometimes it clearly is disordered behavior.

Before, when I lived with all girls in the dorms and in the sorority house, it was actually a similar situation. We talked about food and calories allll the time, and girls were always giving each other tips or asking questions on how to cut calories and fill up on the smallest amount. The girls that could eat the least seemed to have a whole lot of self control and received praise, but I think we all knew it wasn’t healthy. I happened to be one of those girls for most of college. I ate “super healthy” all the time – which actually meant that I stayed away from sweets, loaded up on veggies to stay full, and ate the least amount of calories possible while running every day. But there was also a backlash from that, with my house mom telling me I looked a little too skinny and someone starting a rumor that I didn’t eat dinner at the house some nights because I didn’t want people knowing how little I actually ate (for the record, I had to work during the little half hour window they gave us for dinner at the house.)  Anyway, at one point I was living on 700-1000 calories a day (unless I drank, then it was just a little more – that’s what we call “drunkorexia,” folks), running 6-7 miles daily, and lifting a few times a week. I’m shocked I never passed out, honestly. Anyway, I convinced myself that I was just really disciplined, when in fact, I was really obsessed and had major control issues.

I do want to keep up this discipline and renewed commitment to feeling like an athlete again, but I don’t want to drive myself crazy with it as I did in the past. I already caught a cold from the guys I work with, but I’d like to avoid catching anything more serious.

What do you all think? Can you ‘catch’ an eating disorder or disordered eating from someone else? Or do you think some people are actually predisposed to EDs? Do other people influence your food and exercise choices? I really want to know how you feel about this topic, so spill!

Trying New Things: Yoplait Greek Yogurt

The other day, I was picking up some essentials at the grocery store when I spotted a new Greek yogurt made by Yoplait. I’m not going to lie, I got super excited when I saw this, especially because it’s almost a dollar cheaper than my beloved Fage! I am addicted to that stuff, but it can put a dent in your wallet, especially when you forget to go grocery shopping and have to shop at the little market by your house that charges an arm and a leg for everything. I was a tiny bit skeptical of Yoplait’s version, but decided to give it a try. Here are the details: It claims it has 2x the protein of leading yogurt (true), and it has 100 calories, 14 grams of protein, and 0 grams of fat. Not bad!

I opened it yesterday morning after my two early appointments, looking for a dose of protein. And, honestly…all I can say is, “UGH!” But I will admit that I ate it anyway because I didn’t have anything else, and I’m cheap like that. I also thought, HEY, I never try new stuff so this could be an awesome post! A review! I’m such a hip blogger now! (I sound like my mom. Apparently, I’m not up the lingo these days.)

Anyway, I got the plain version because I actually really like plain yogurt – Greek or regular – but this was just not good. It tasted like plain yogurt does when you accidentally let it sit out for an hour and it’s almost room temperature. Except I had just taken this out of the fridge and it was still chilled. Bleh. It actually tasted like it had gone bad or something, so I even checked the expiration date to make sure. Nope, March 20, 2010. It was just that gross. It was weird in a tangy way that was off even for plain yogurt. So if you don’t like plain in the first place, this might make you vom a little. The texture wasn’t terrible, but there was something weirdly chalky about the coating it left behind along with the aftertaste. Yoplait, your claim that it has a ‘unique, thick and creamy texture’ is only accurate on the ‘unique’ part.

So maybe I’m spoiled, and I like the good stuff, but I’m still telling you not to waste your money on this. It might be cheaper, but that’s because it’s kind of disgusting. As with most things in life, friends, you get what you pay for. I am willing to give other Greek yogurts a try, but my heart still belongs to Fage 2%, even if it is the most expensive. I’ll even do Chobani or Trader Joe’s brand if they’re available. But Yoplait… never again…

Have you tried any fun (or gross) new foods lately? What did you think? Any recommendations for me?

100-Calorie Scams

Even knows: Just because it’s low-cal doesn’t mean it’s good for you!
I recently saw an ad featuring Venus and Serena Williams for Nabisco’s 100-Calorie Packs on Now, I truly love Glamour for its mainly positive message to women, and I think the Williams sisters are pretty badass for their complete domination of tennis, but I have a major problem with the magazine and the sisters promoting a nutritionally void snack that uses “Diet Like a Diva” as its slogan.
First of all, Glamour has been running all sorts of articles about what eating disorders will do to your body and how eating wholesome foods is the way to go when it comes to losing weight or just staying healthy. They’ve also got the Body by Glamour plan, which, again, promotes eating healthy foods with redeeming nutritional qualities. It’s not supposed to be a ‘diet,’ but a plan with plenty of smart takeaways that will help you make permanent lifestyle changes. So it’s understandable that I take issue with the mag for pimping packaged products with the lowest amount of calories possible, right?
Additionally, the fact that the Williams sisters are the faces of this campaign really irks me. I honestly do not think that these athletes are munching on 100-calorie packs all day to keep themselves in shape. To compete like they do, I’m pretty sure they’re eating a wholesome diet full of lean protein, whole grains, and lots of produce. Sure, maybe they’ve tested the products they’re pretending to eat in the ads, but really? Do you believe that the million-time Wimbledon champs are refueling with Wheat Thins substitutes?
To be honest, I’m rarely one of those “everything in moderation” people (still working on it), and in my calorie-obsessed college days I will admit that I totally fell for this idea, but I simply can’t justify it anymore. I do understand that everyone needs a treat sometimes, but why not promote the idea that we can indulge just a little bit every now and then with something a little closer to the real thing? Personally, a little baggie of imitation cocoa-flavored wafers does not nix my chocolate craving. But you know what does? Actual chocolate (the darker the better in my case). And if I have a small enough piece, it’s going to be about 100 calories (give or take) as well, so why would I waste calories and money on little baggies (not so eco-friendly either there, Nabisco) of satisfaction-free chemically-laden ‘food’?
Anyway, I want to know what YOU have to say about this. Have you seen these ads? What do you think of them? How do you feel about Venus and Serena as well as Glamour promoting the products? What do you think of the 100-cal marketing scheme in general?