First up, I know I’ve talked about this place, Happy & Hale here before on the blog, but I have to sing its praises once again.
Lots of changes going round in the Samples household, and as a result, I’ve had to work really really hard to stay on track with a decent diet and stuff. More on that later.
But I was really in a rush on Tuesday to get a good lunch in that didn’t involve anything gross, anything friend, and was quick, and the first thought was Happy & Hale.
I did my usual, a quinoa bowl (without the onions) and here was the finished product.
I’ve seen Katherine, the nutritionist here, a few times, and she is highly encouraging of incorporating lots and lots of color in each meal. This meal TOTALLY has it. I mean, it’s gorgeous to look at. Unfortunately for me, this was a lot of fiber, so I had to watch the fiber at dinner and do something that was a little less psyllium-y. TMI.
Valentine’s Day Plans.
I think this is the first V-Day that we don’t have something special planned, but I really think I’m okay with that.
In years past, we’ve always done dinner around Valentine’s, and given little gifts, but nothing super major. This year, despite my efforts to get to bed much, much earlier than I have, I still am battling some fatigue as I adjust to earlier start times, and we’re looking forward to dinner in and making our way around Lake Johnson that day. It’s boring, but it works for us.
One thing I will ask my hubby really really nicely for is a mani/pedi. That’s still one of my favorite treats in the world. I’ll happily oblige with his favorite treats (probably a trip to Harbor Freight to buy more things to put in the shed).
I’m a part of a few closed Facebook groups where health and fitness are the main topics of discussion. I love them because we bounce ideas off of one another, and it’s really cool to see newbies to health and wellness dip their toes in.
But one thing I’ve seen come up again and again and again is this.
Is [blank] healthy?
Is yogurt healthy? Are almonds healthy? Is quinoa healthy? Is chicken healthy?
I’m genuinely baffled a lot of the time – and not because I’m a health expert, but at the ignorance that many of us have about common items. Not only this, but the seeming unwillingness of folks to simply Google, or the lack of knowledge that information about a lot of these food items is readily available is pretty astounding.
But the biggest thing that I find somewhat problematic with this line of questioning is the question itself.
We are asking the wrong questions about our food.
Stay with me here.
“Is chicken healthy?”
Well, that is a really subjective question. You can boil an appropriate portion size of chicken (about the size of a deck of cards), and eat it with steamed veggies. That’s a pretty balanced meal.
You also can fry a few pieces of chicken and eat it with mac and cheese and potato wedges sprinkled with old bay. Not the most balanced meal. Pretty good, but not balanced.
So I think when we throw out the question “is [blank] healthy” we miss the entire point. A food, in its raw form isn’t inherently unhealthy. The nutrition factor of the food is changed in a few instances.
When you put a dressing on it. A bare salad, or a salad that’s been dribbled on is wayyy different than a salad that has been doused in ranch, for examples.
The portion. There’s a big difference in a half-cup of pasta, and four cups.
And finally, the way you prep it. Did you fry it? Pan sear it? Rub some rub on it and bake it? All of these things will change how nutritious this food is.
So, I think, before you ask “is this healthy,” consider reading up about the food. Figure out a few good ways to prepare it that don’t involve dunking it in egg mixture and frying it in oil. Find out what the serving size of the food is. And get creative!
I ended up coming home kinda late last night because I have a secret life.
After I watched most of the soccer game (yay US women) with some friends and a fake cocktail, I scooted a little early so that I could jump in the shower (I was all gross after running with a friend earlier) and quickly get ready for a gig I had with an underground rapper in town. As I was at the show, enjoying some of the artists, and before Mark “Franchise” Jusino performed, I realized how funny it all seemed. I’m a Director at the Y. No one in the entire world suspects that I’m out at a venue that serves no food, singing to an audience of rappers and their supporters. But there I was. Isn’t life funny?
So along those lines, I ate a Reese’s big cup yesterday (before I taught a class, no less) and I was thinking about those things that I love, that I’m sort of embarrassed to admit, as a somewhat healthy person that I enjoy. I hope you guys still like me after.
Reese’s Big Cup
This thing is such treat for me. I’ve long sung the praises of the Reese’s Big Cup, but I need to reiterate, this treat is FANTASTIC, mainly because of the peanut butter to chocolate ratio. I love getting one of these from the gas station, saving it til I get home, and eating it when I feel the need for the sugar/salty goodness to hit my lips.
York Peppermint Patties
I don’t need to talk about why these are incredible and amazing. I really don’t. They just are.
A cold bubbly something. A seltzer is the best. A diet sprite will do.
Cold seltzer. It’s not bad for you per se, but I think it’s sort of abrasive on your teeth. But one of these while you’re just cruising down the street in your white Kia Soul, listening to trashy pop. But I usually have to hide the cup. A BK Lounge Cup is never ever a good look at work.
A pop tart with a cup of coffee.
Not this flavor. That is disgusting. But the strawberry with a cup of coffee is perfect. Also 400 calories and an indecent amount of sugar, but, it’s a TREAT.
As a reminder, I totally do enjoy this stuff, but I’m not a total pig. This is a once-in-a-while thing that I really really enjoy, which is how I mange to maintain a decent level of health.
Timehop is sometimes really fun. Sometimes it’s a really rude reminder of the fact that you used to get really drunk and eat two mexi hot dogs from Cookout at 3 a.m. on a regular basis. Yesterday was one of those days.
So, occasionally someone comments on my current weight, often, someone who may have known me at Elon. And I’m not ever going to pretend I was morbidly obese, but I definitely had a few more lbs on me, which you can clearly see in my cheeks and in my boobs in the above picture. Thanks a WHOLE heck of a lot Timehop, for serving as a brutal reminder of the fact that beer is not a food group.
I want a turkey sandwich.
I woke up on Monday feeling two things.
For one, I felt really rough because I drank too many mojitos with my friends on Sunday. But it’s not exactly my fault because…I just don’t feel like admitting that it’s my fault.
And for the second part, I really really was craving a turkey sandwich. Which is all well and good, except I’m a vegetarian, and it’s probably been over 10 years since I’ve eaten a turkey sandwich. But for some reason, a cold turkey sandwich with tomato, lettuce, and avocado is calling my name. I’ve given myself a few days to see if the craving would go away, but it’s not, so I’m really thinking about getting one.
Now, a few folks have been really quick to point out that I might be pregnant. Which would explain things, but I’m 99% sure I’m not.
So the other working theory is that my body is craving protein or sodium, which is also feasible, since it’s hot as balls out and I haven’t eaten meat in so long. But I also was under the impression that I was getting enough through beans and nut butters and whatnot.
So my question today, as I plan to eat lunch after a long run is:
I consider myself something of a lifestyle/healthy living blogger. And I am perfectly transparent in what experiences/education that I feel make me at all qualified to dish on all that I dish on.
Here’s what I got real quick so you guys know where I’m coming from.
Studied Psychology in undergrad.
Studied Social Work, focused heavily on health and weight loss.
Worked two full summers at a weight loss camp, spent time, after I got full-time work, at weight loss camp with my kids.
Worked for Fleet Feet (running specialty) for…well I never really stopped. I backed off of full-time when I was employed as a Director at a local nonprofit facility….
I am Director of Group Fitness.
Been teaching group fitness for over 5 years. Zumba® Fitness, Toning, Step, Cycling, Body Pump™. You name it I teach it.
Also, I lost some like 35-40ish pounds I put on in college and while in a terribly volatile relationship.
This isn’t to say, like “la la la, I’m so fancy, I know all this stuff,” it’s more to say, I know some of what I’m talking about. I still have bunches to learn, and I will never claim that candy, wine, and coffee never cross my lips, cause they totally do. But I’m increasingly troubled by the rise of the “healthy” living blogger, or HLB, especially the sort that doesn’t work out, lost weight on potentially unhealthy and unsustainable methods, and then touts the weird crap they eat as healthy to unsuspecting followers.
Enter…well…let me know say her name, because I’m not here to embarrass anyone, but, she’s sort of what I described above. Maybe a nice girl, but really in no place to be telling other folks what to be putting in their bodies to lose weight – and not because she hasn’t found success, but because what works for her simply may not work or be healthy for every body.
So the other day, aforementioned blogger posts a picture of a salad with what looked to be about 5 tablespoons of ranch dressing on it.
There’s nothing wrong with a salad, I think salads are amazing and awesome, but not only did she douse the salad in ranch dressing, but she very literally stated…
“The ranch is intentional…it’s a great source of healthy fat!”
And then when a follower questioned her on it, she then stated, ” The oil, eggs and cream found in ranch dressing are all healthy fats.”
Let me break it down for you really quickly. Ranch gets like a D- from nutritionists. It’s FULL of fat (and not the good kind), and even fuller of sodium. There is not a nutritionist on God’s green earth who would EVER list Ranch as a healthy fat. And FURTHERMORE the serving size is like 1 tbs. Not 5. Or whatever’s going on there.
All that to say, please, please, please, when you’re following HLBs, keep a few things in mind.
We’re human. We lose weight, we gain weight. We run a good race. We run a bad race. Some of us have suffered with eating disorders. Some of us just like to write! Please don’t look to us as the gospel.
Please be discerning. How does (s)he know what (s)he is talking about? Did they do something idiotic like go on diet pills? Do they look as if they have some sort of eating disorder? Are they copious drug/alcohol users? DO THEY WORK OUT?! No? Probably not someone you need to be looking to for diet advice, and I think it’s important for us to recognize that in ourselves as the blogger.
Call us on it. Do you see something on the blog that doesn’t seem right? Doesn’t make sense? Email us, leave a comment, or ask a genuine question.
On a more positive note, who are some of your favorite HLBs?
I actually had a bomb weekend because I got to spend time with my husband. I don’t know about you guys, but a lot of times of the weekends, we make so so many plans that we barely get to see one another. And by the time we get into bed too late on a Sunday night, we haven’t seen one another more than an hour or two. This weekend was a little different – I made plans and drank with friends on Friday, and because I wasn’t teaching or anything, we spent all day Saturday together – cleaning, napping, working out, and finally, falling into bed, deliciously exhausted, but together.
Austin’s the bomb. I love him a lot. I like spending time with him.
Now. Let’s talk candy.
On the way to run yesterday morning, I got into a big discussion with Mama Cheri about candy. Now, neither of us eats a ton of candy – she for health reasons, and me, because once I start, I can’t stop. So when I eat candy, I typically do a single-serve York Peppermint Pattie, or the holy grail of candy, a Reese’s Big Cup, where the peanut butter to chocolate ratio is one that is angelic. So I’m of the firm belief that Valentine’s Day is one of the best holidays for candy. But I got into this argument discussion with my mother and a friend regarding the best holidays for candy, and they were not in agreement. So let’s break it down.
The best candy, in no particular order.
1. Reese’s – the big cup variety is the best, which I’ve stated time and again. NOW, the reason for this is that the peanut butter to chocolate ratio. This includes the trees, the eggs, and the hearts. All solid choices.
2. Whoppers – malted milk balls are the absolute best. Now, there IS a variety you can get at Whole Foods, which makes you feel a little better about stuffing your face because it’s made without HFCS and real chocolate, as opposed to Whoppers.
3. York Peppermint Patties – the 140-calorie variety that you can commonly acquire at most checkouts at the grocery store. I mean, DUH.
4. Pretzel M&Ms.
5. Sweet Tarts– you can shove these in your mouth by the handful, which makes them really convenient. But really dangerous, as I’ve found out, because when they’re in the admin office, for example, you might eat them all every time you have to go down there. Which is not productive.
Now, let’s move on to the worst candies, in no particular order.
1. Circus Peanuts – my mother disgustingly loves these. If you read the description on these, you’ll find that they’re considered some sort of marshmallow candy, flavored artificially with BANANA?! WTH?! Who would do such a thing?
2. Okay, so I’m having a really hard time moving past the Circus Peanuts thing. But my mother reminded me of these atrocities…
These guys are called Old Fashioned Marshmallow Eggs. There are a number of things that are pretty disgusting about this candy, mainly the fact that the sugar on the inside is suspended in this marshy thing. It’s really disgusting and not acceptable.
3. Jellybeans – they’re just too sweet and sort of pointless. They also get stuck in your teeth, and you run the risk of getting a horrible flavor, which is totally the opposite of the point of eating candy in the first place. Would you ever just go actively seeking out jellybeans? Probably not because they’re pointless and add nothing to your day.
4. Raisinets – I want to know who on God’s green earth decided that they would combine raisins, which are pretty disgusting on their own, and cover them in crusty chocolate? Why would I ever eat that?
So the holiday with the best candy?
For me, hands down, it’s got to be Valentine’s Day because of the variety of chocolate. Yum!
Omg, so many worsts here, but I’m going to have to say that Easter provides us with the worst candy because it’s all smooshy and sugary, and that’s just not the way things should be. But Easter, don’t be sad because Easter is going to be closely followed by Christmas, because there is truly nothing fun about sucking on a peppermint stick.
This weekend was literally bananas. The last weekend that I said that, was probably in the spring when I had a race scheduled every weekend, but rest assured, this past weekend picked up again, and I’m hoping we slow down a teensy tinsy bit before we blink and the year is up. First up!
On Friday night, despite some disgusting weather, we were paid a visit but some friends. Earl and Austin used to be roomies, and once Earl and his wife met, and I met my husband, those two got married, and moved to Columbia, SC last year. They got pregnant, had baby Lillian, and came to visit on Friday. The baby was so sweet, and the best part was that our cat is bigger than that sweet baby. Isn’t that totally freaky? I had a good time holding her though, and I loved being able to walk her around and give mom a break. We’re really happy for those two!
So, can I be honest? I went to the original Tupelo Honey Cafe the first time I went to Asheville with my husband a few years ago. I think I remember it being the bomb, and it wasn’t super crowded because we went during the middle of the week. They opened one in Raleigh, and I’m afraid it isn’t the same. Both times I’ve gone, I’ve been a little so-so on the food, almost as if there wasn’t enough flavor. I may stick to Flying Biscuit in the future when I’m down for brunch. Which is pretty much always.
Hornets vs. Knicks
Austin and I had been talking about going to this Knicks game forever – my dad and Tony Sparber are longtime Knicks fans, even though it’s really hard this season. The Knicks are literally the worst team in the league, but I thought the opportunity was too good to pass up. I bought some tickets for me and the hubs off of a Buy/Sell/Trade page on Facebook, and off we went!
Both teams played horribly. Prior to us going to the game, Earl, baby Lillian’s dad, predicted that the game would end in the 70s, which is ridiculous for an NBA game. But he was so right. Carmelo wasn’t playing because he played for like 40-some-odd minutes the night before, and Kemba Walker didn’t play at all, I’m pretty sure. So it was kind of like watching 3-year-olds play. But it was so fun to be there, and something that I would definitely do again.
My days/time are all off because of the way Thanksgiving falls just in the middle of the week, so today, you beautiful folks will get a post on a Saturday, which hasn’t happened in quite some time.
Anyhoo, so I had my first Thanksgiving as a:
Person who cooks all the food.
Person who cleans for people to come over.
…And it was pretty cool.
So I woke up early on Thursday morning after we’d done some Wednesday evening shopping, and immediately got to cooking. And I cooked and cooked and cooked. On the menu?
Hash Brown Casserole
Creamed Spinach (I wasn’t a huge fan of this dish)
White Veggie Lasagna
Southern Made Biscuits
And my parents and sisters brought..
Turkey and a Ham (I wasn’t too down with prepping the meat)
Green Bean Casserole
Mac and Cheese
I was terrified at some point that we wouldn’t have enough food, but at this count, I’ve just finished my third plate and I’m growing weary under the pressure of trying to finish these leftovers. I’m a max, one to two-day leftover kinda girl – this is killing me. I also don’t eat a ton as Thanksgiving sort of requires you to do so I’m sorta dying here.
So my entire Thanksgiving consisted of cooking, hosting family, and cleaning up later that night. My workout that I’d sort of planned didn’t happen, my long walk didn’t happen. Heck, I barely even got dessert. But I have a lot, a TON to be thankful for.
I’m not an absolute Nazi about my diet, but I watch it pretty closely. In the years after I graduated from Elon, after a summer away teaching fitness classes at a weight loss camp, I was educated on calories, portion control, and the necessity of exercise each day, and managed to lose the thirty-fiveish pounds that had crept up while I made my way through college.
Through the last part of graduate school, as I continued losing weight, I did the best I could with portion control and food, and ate a lot of processed crap like Lean Cuisine, more for the portion control. I was more concerned with calories overall, and not necessarily what was in the food. And I lost the remaining weight, as you will when you’re focused on that number. But once I got down to a good weight, and felt comfortable stepping out of that premeasured box that was Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice, I started dipping my toes into the Whole Foods pond, and discovering how much better I felt, and how much better my body looked when I was eating salads, fruits, and coffees that were locally grown, and not at all prepackaged – the closet thing that I could get to eating foods from the ground without pulling it out myself.
Our last apartment before we bought the house was almost painfully close to the Whole Foods. Austin would groan when he saw that brown paper Whole Foods bag because he knew that meant that I had spent somewhere between $10-a billion dollars. Now, even though the Whole Foods is not really more than like 15 minutes away, it’s not as convenient, and I’ve found myself shopping more and more at the Food Lion because I can literally walk to it without breaking a sweat. And what I’ve seen has been a little troubling.
The nice thing about those more expensive places, is that if you can afford them, they offer you some great selection, as well as the fact that a lot of these stores are expanding into more local and organic options.
But with the Food Lion back across the street from me, I’ve noticed a few things.
The produce section is not as robust as it is other places. I’ve had to hunt for certain fruits and veggies, and on more than one occasion, have not been able to find what I’m looking for at all. Additionally, when you do find what you’re looking for, a lot of times the fruit has been harvested early so that it will make the long journey fresh, and is rock hard, almost unedible, or the opposite. Mushy from the nitrogen that they pump into the room to make sure the fruit is attractive and ripened.
But the freezer section is bangin’. For the first time in years, I’ve eaten a few Lean Cuisines. They literally have an unending selection of this stuff, however, the sodium is off the charts. And ‘tis no bueno.
Lettuce at the Lion and lettuce elsewhere is not always created equal. In my experience, I’ve purchased lettuce, that once I’ve gotten home, is slimy, so I have to pull out the slime, and use the edible parts.
I’ve unwittingly purchased spoiled dairy there as well, which is a pretty nasty surprise when you’re all excited about the little dollop of milk you put in your tea.
Now thankfully, I can afford, once in a while, to make the trip to a Whole Foods or a to a Harris Teeter to pick up some of those items that can’t be found in Food Lion, such a sundried tomatoes, fresh pasta, and fresh lettuce, and fermented teas that I’ve developed a love for. But for those who can’t afford to make a trip across town, or for those who straight up don’t have access – have never set foot in a Trader Joes, for example, what is the best way for those folks, to make sure they’re getting a full, well-rounded, healthy diet, high in nutrients, but lower in sodium?