Archive | April, 2014

WTH of the Week: Quick Fix Diets

29 Apr

If you haven’t figured this out by now, I spend a stupid amount of time on Pinterest. Why? Cause we’re BFF’s. Peas and carrots.  Like, I just adore that digital time suck.

Except for one little thing (well, two, because Pins captioned “Pin now, read later!” really bug me also. Not sure why).

But my real point of contention is with Pinterest is the abundance of health related misinformation out there that gets pinned and repinned thousands of times. Specifically, I am deeply and profoundly annoyed by pins with pictures of models with 6 Pack abs with captions that read crap like the following:

“Burn 600 calories in 20 minutes!”

“Workouts to Get Rid of Cellulite!”

“Melt your thigh fat!”

and my least favorite:…drumroll please…

“Lose 10+ lbs in 7 Days”

baddies

Ahhhhhh. You guys.

First of all. Burning 600 calories in 20 minutes…welp, good luck. Getting rid of cellulite? Even better luck (and furthermore, who decided that cellulite is a terrible thing? Get over it: everyone has cellulite and it’s not necessarily reflective of a poor lifestyle- it’s mostly genetic), Melt thigh fat? You can’t choose where fat melts from, sorry Charlie.

But losing 10 pounds in 7 days. Um, kill me, because I really just can’t think of a less healthy message to send out to the primary users of Pinterest (women age 18-34). Unfortunately, our quick-fix society is all about ideas like losing 10 pounds in 7 days, so those pins just spread like a damn wildfire.

This is sucko because first of all, studies show that not only is it unhealthy to lose over 2 lbs a week, but the chances of keeping it off declines sharply. If it was so easy to just lose 10 pounds in a week and keep it off, I kinda don’t think we’d have an obesity problem. On the contrary, quick fixes have helped propel an obesity epidemic by teaching us that a quick fix is favorable to actually developing a normal, healthy relationship with food. And oh, that’s because forming habits and changing a mindset takes time. Duh.

I’ve addressed this cycle before, but if you need a refresher course, here’s generally what happens on a crash diet:

1. Calories are reduced drastically for short periods of time.  This is typically accompanied by hunger and misery:  such a brutal slashing of calories will likely leave you craving all sorts of high calorie food. Because your mindset is in the short term, there’s a Big Mac at the end of the rainbow if you can just get through the next 10 days.

Part 2 is a choose-your-own-adventure kinda situation:

2A. You break, and after 3 days of eating iceberg salads with fat free ranch, you head straight to Pizza Hut and take one of those puppies down, solo. You feel guilty and deem yourself a failure.

2B. Diet ends and  X amount of pounds have been lost (mostly water weight).  You’re pleased with the scale (or not), but you head straight to McDonalds for a #2 and maybe some curly fries from J in the B because you have been eating fricken’ celery and grapefruit with fat free sour cream all week and you deserve it, damnit.

3. Begin binge and purge (I am not referring to throwing up) cycle of excessive calorie deficit, temporary weight loss, followed by excessive consumption because you went from 60 to 0 and your body is freaking out. Follow up with excessive guilt when (mostly water) weight is gained back.

4. Enter a vicious cycle…and a world of hurt.

I mean, this is clearly not the scientific version of what’s wrong with crash diets, but I think you get the gist, and I hope it pisses you off too. So please guys, do me a favor and trust me when I say it’s all BS: stop pinning this garbage! It’s something we could all do without.

End rant.

XO

Meg

 

 

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Skinny Raspberry Jalapeno Margs

24 Apr

Here’s a fact about me that you may not know: once upon a time, I lived in London and was a bartender.  While the majority of what I made was pretty simple, I spent a lot of free time messing around behind the bar, creating cocktails. As a result, I’ve been the resident bartender among my friends ever since.

I’m not a huge drinker these days, but I must admit that it’s impossible extremely difficult for me to turn down anything in the margarita family. I suppose anyone even remotely health conscious is aware that your standard marg is full of sugar and calories (<- sometimes up to 600, seriously), so bless your heart Bethany Franklel, for providing mainstream access to the Skinny Girl margarita.

While I’m quite pleased with the fact that one can buy a bottle of SG at almost any old grocery store, I will forever be a proponent of homemade cocktails as a first choice.

Well, summer is right around the corner and now that it’s actually still light when I get home from work, I’ve been getting the itch to sit on my balcony and watch the sunset. Which of course, is to be done with a margarita in hand.

Obviously.

My favorite at the moment is a combination of a few of my favorite flavors: raspberry + jalapeno. Sweet and spicy, oh hay!

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3

7

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ingredients (makes 4):

  • i container raspberries
  • 4+ ounces tequila (I prefer Reposado, but whatever you’re into)
  • 1-2 lime (to taste), juiced
  • 6 ounces club soda (optional)
  • 1 tbsp sweetner of choice  (also optional – I usually skip but sometimes use coconut sugar)
  • I jalapeno, sliced lengthwise – I don’t seed mine because I like it spicy, but this is up to you
  • Ice

-Use a muddler or fork to mash raspberries and distribute evenly among 4 glasses

-Add ice, and evenly distribute lime juice, tequila, club soda, and jalapenos. Give a good stir, and enjoy.

 

 

 

 

A Fantastically Fresh + Fit Collab: 14 Day Real Food Reset

23 Apr

If you missed it on my Facebook page, I have some exciting news! My amazing friend Rachele at Fantastically Fresh & Fit and I have put together a seriously kick-ass 2 week health challenge that will have you glowing and feeling amazeballs just  in time for Memorial Day!

IMO, getting healthy is always a little more fun with some direction and a rad group of people to keep each other fired up. Of course, I would never put you on a diet, being that I’m not a doctor and don’t know your individual health goals – and really, do you think I’d actually ask you to give up wine? Um, no. So if you’re interested in learning more, here’s a little bit of information:

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Our goal of the14 day Real Food Reset Program is to educate and empower you to learn more about overall health and wellness. This program is open to anyone: Whether you are already a health nut, or even if you do not iceberg from arugula (bad health joke, sorry), you will find that this is an easy and manageable way to up your health game!

What the Real Food Reset isn’t: a diet, cleanse, or fast. There are no weigh-ins, blacklisted foods or points for pounds lost.  Quite a few of you have asked “Can I eat carbs?,” or “What about martinis?” You don’t have to give up anything: the goal is going to be to ADD healthy, nutrient dense food to your daily diet and develop healthy habits, while racking up the points for doing so!

What the Real Food Reset Is: Just a little fun, health competition among friend and friends-to-be right in time for you to kick off your summer.  In 14 days you will learn a lot about what real food is all about and how to fuel your body with the best nutrients and lifestyle factors possible. We’ll compete for points by adding foods from our Nutrient Superstar list into our meals, making slight modifications, and either adding or improving your fitness levels, getting some sleep, and staying hydrated, group participation and a few other fun things!

It’s $25 bucks to join, and for that you’ll receive:

  • Real Food Recipe Rolodex: easy breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and desserts for you to mix and match during your challenge

  • Meal planning template

  • Grocery shopping guide

  • 20 minute workout ideas designed by your trainer, Rachele

  • List of Fit Nation’s nutrient dense foods

  • A score tracking sheet where you will log your daily points in health categories to compete to win some fun prizes.

  • Members-only community boards and forums + a private Facebook group to share pictures and progress

  • A daily emailed check in with video tips

  • Access to the members section of our website

  • TONS of support and encouragement, and prizes for the winners!

We’re going to kick this off on May 6th and it will last for two weeks, and I just know it’s going to be a blast! Who doesn’t love a little healthy competition? If you want to join us, visit here to sign up. You can also learn a little more on our website, here.

Would LOVE to see you there!!

XO

M

 

 

LWN Spring Workout Playlist

21 Apr

Good morning my favorite peeps, happy Monday!

Hope everyone had a fabulous Easter (or just a wonderful Sunday, depending how you swing). Mine was lovely – I indulged in a a few of my favorite things, in no particular order: bubbly, cheese, olives, a little bit of a delish prosciutto and goat cheese strata (recipe compliments of my #1, Erin), but mostly filled up on a big ol’ protein waffle with blueberry compote, and some veggies / fruit. NBD.

Here’s a little peek at my Easter brunch…

table

meat and cheese

buddha

asparagus

fruit - edit

muffins

Guess I was too busy with the English cheddar to get pics of the mains, but you get the idea.

Anyway, it was really beautiful outside in the afternoon and I was kind of dying for a long run on the beach. Since I needed badly to digest first, I put together a pretty happy lil’ playlist, which of course I’m going to share with you.  I’ll be posting more of these soon so feel free to follow me on Spotify!

 

My run was amazing and I made it home just in time to gaze at this stud of a sunset.  It just keeps getting better!

sunset1

sunset2

Happy Monday, lovers!

XO
M

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Scale, We’re Over

18 Apr

A couple of months ago, I said goodbye to an old friend.  One I’d known for most of my life.

While I wouldn’t say the relationship was especially unhealthy, in hindsight I realize that I was probably putting too much stock in my the feedback I was getting, and maybe letting that feedback dictate the way I felt about myself a bit more frequently than I should have.

Like any goodbye, it wasn’t easy at first, but I’ve grown more and more accustomed to the absence, and although I’ve had my ups and downs about it, I realize now that cutting ties was more liberating than I had ever expected it to be.

Goodbye, scale. It’s been real, but we’re over.

scale

Honestly, I can’t say saying peace out to my scale was some emotionally charged, grandiose parting of ways. In fact, a friend who was doing a company weight loss challenge asked to borrow it, so I lent it to her. Only, I had been thinking of getting rid of it for a while at that point, so after some final internal deliberation I decided to just let her keep the damn thing.

You see, I haven’t been obsessed with numbers on a scale for a long time. But I’m not going to lie – I used it from time to time keep myself in check. But during a particularly stressful time about a year ago, I lost 6 or 7 pounds as the result of not having an appetite. While I wasn’t loving the way it looked (a lot of what I lost was muscle), I found myself sort of pleased with the number that showed up when I weighed myself. That on it’s own already doesn’t make any kind of logical sense, but to add to that, it occurred to me that I went from weighing in every couple of weeks to every couple of days. While the odd pound or two didn’t ruin my day, it did occasionally affect my mood.

The other issue was “fat days” and “skinny days.”  While I’m the first to admit that in no way am I even close to “fat” (I’m just using the common term), I would be lying if I said I’m not like any other woman who has the occasional, PMS-y day where my jeans feel tight and make me grouchy, however, if I got on the scale and weighed less than I anticipated, I was instantly in a better mood. Conversely, there were an occasion or two where I caught sight of myself and was like “yeahhhhh girl,” but would weigh myself a day later, have put on a pound or two -probably water weight, honestly- but suddenly my reflection somehow looked different. And that is pretty messed up, if you really think about it.

Please don’t get me wrong – these instances were few and far between.  But the last time it happened, I realized that letting an arbitrary number dictate how I feel about myself was complete and total bullshit.

So for the record I’m extremely proud of my relationship with food. We are totally, totally cool. Like, it’s one of my largest sources of pride- I can eat a piece of pie and a burger if that’s really what I want and not give it a second thought. Considering that the first 20-something years of my life were spent with an insane preoccupation with dieting (resulting in a lifelong struggle with a yo-yo’ing weight), I find peace knowing that in no way does food dictate my life. I mean, I feel healthy.  So why the hell should I care what a scale says?

Every once in a while I get a little curious and wonder for a moment what I weigh, but my clothes fit the same and I feel good because I take pride in what goes in my body, so it only takes a second to remember that I’m better off without it . After all, beauty is not a number on a scale, and self worth should not come from pants size.

I’m actually a little surprised that I let a number have any impact on my mood, and even if those instances were infrequent, not having it at all has made them non-existent.  And that has been awesome.

The end.

 

XO

M

 

 

 

WTH of the Week: Diet Double Standards

15 Apr

wtf

The other night I was combing through recipes online, looking for the perfect Sunday dinner, when I stumbled across a recipe for Paleo Pad Thai. It sounded delicious – zucchini noodles instead of, well, whatever noodles are ordinarily used in Pad Thai, loads of veggies, blackened chicken. Healthy, nutritious, and lighter than ‘real” Pad Thai? Sunday dinner plans, check.

I kept reading the recipe and was getting pretty hungry when I stumbled across a sentence (well, the latter half of a sentence) that made me burst out laughing. In describing the meal, the author was explaining the reason for subbing zucchini noodles rather than using “real” noodles, in a way that I perceived to be completely serious, was described as a perfect way to eliminate “troublesome poison-grains.”

Troublesome poison-grains?  OMG.  So, I know that grain isn’t exactly the Homecoming Queen these days, but poison grain? It was so extreme that it made me giggle.

Jump to the next sentence, which then suggests using blackened chicken as opposed to baked or rotisserie, because the char of the chicken adds to the flavor of the meal. End giggling, enter irritation/eye roll/sighs.

$100 Lululemon gift card to the first person who can guess why this is so irritating to me (and the answer “because everything irritates you, Meg” is not the one I’m looking for, although you might be on to something).

Ok fine, I’ll just tell you. First: the reference (although unintentionally funny) to “poison grain.”   I understand that every couple of years a new diet comes along that spreads a movement of “don’t eat this food group because new studies and even these old studies show it’s really terrible for you” and then some food group gets shut out. I get it, I don’t like it at all but fine. However– such dramatic language (eg, “poison grain”)  from anyone other than a team of scientists really gets under my skin.

But the part that really annoys me? Arbitrary “health” rules and double standards. Like, that gets wayyy under my skin. For instance, when the author of a recipe posted in a highly visible place decides to pick and choose what will and won’t kill you. Like what I’m saying is, maybe don’t call grains “poison” and then suggest adding a food that the National Cancer Institute, Cancer.org, and the American Cancer society recommend avoiding because of  studies potentially linking charred food to an increased cancer risk. Or call for a processed-soy (<- which is highly controversial in the food world) based sauce.

‘Cause you’re probably going to have some people scratching their heads.

I am totally not criticizing this author singularly (and seriously, my partially-poisonous dinner was absolutely delicious) –  it’s just an isolated example of a broader problem that I find deeply frustrating.  I’m also definitely not saying anyone who follows a particular diet or lifestyle is wrong or misguided. What I am saying is that we can get into some real trouble when we start making extreme claims to validate our dietary choices, even though the science behind nutrition is constantly evolving.  As an image and partially health-obsessed society who is always searching for an answer, we tend to buy into the latest “research” to the point where everything else is wrong, leading to extreme point of views, misinformation, and ultimately confusion.

And before you know it, we’re all terrified of food in general, thinking grains are poison and meat causes heart disease but soy will give me breast cancer so WTF do I eat?

We’ve replaced eating in moderation with a half dozen “lifestyles” that are all the only right way to eat, yet all contradict each other in terms of research.  To this I say, moderation, people. Neither a donut here or a burrito there is going to make you fat if you’re truly eating moderately, and it’s certainly not going to kill you. Unless you choke on it.  I’m 100% for good health, but I’m 110% not for scare tactics or extremes. There are enough things  to be afraid of and food, at least in my humble opinion, should not be one of them.

XO

M

Meet my Frenemy, Salt.

14 Apr

Oh, salt.

Such mixed feelings I have about thee. Just last night I sprinkled the lightest dusting of you ever upon my roasted veggies and this morning I’ve got sausage fingers. I’m not sure I like you much.

Doesn’t help your cause that I grew up believing you were health enemy #1 (well, maybe not #1 but you were up there). I mean, yeah it was the 80’s and everyone was saying that too much of you would definitely lead to to high blood pressure and an untimely death from cardiovascular disease, and I don’t like the way you make my mouth taste so we’ve never really been besties.

But I’m starting to have second thoughts about wanting to keep my distance all the time.

WTF would change my mind after all these years?  Because recently, a suppressed memory from high school Chemistry popped into my head in the middle of a rant about how salt makes my eyes hurt.  I actually remembered that salt isn’t an enemy.  It’s more like, a frenemy. Really great, until it’s not. A high salt intake isn’t good for the ol’ ticker and salt gets a terrible rep but did you know the human body actually needs a pinch or two of salt to function properly? So don’t be a hater.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that healthy adults consume 1500 mg of sodium (3.8 grams of salt), to replace the amount lost daily on average through sweat and urination. The minimum physiological requirement of sodium simply to sustain life has been estimated to be 500 mg of sodium per day.

Believe it or not, sodium is a vital nutrient. I won’t go all Bill Nye on you, but our bodies rely on electrolytes, including salt, to carry impulses that control many crucial bodily functions.  It’ss especially important to the nervous, digestive, and muscular systems.  It stimulates the adrenal glands, protects us from sunstroke and heat related problems, and helps the kidneys and stomach absorb nutrients.  Without salt, blood pressure can fall too low, and it’s very important to consume enough from outside sources in order to meet the minimum requirement.

Salt intake is a bit of a balancing act. I feel it’s definitely safe to say that as a society we consume way too much, but a deficiency can lead to nasty conditions like dehydration (counter-intuitive, right?), low blood pressure, and shock. Worst case scenario? Brain swelling, coma, and congestive heart failure. Sweet.

So, go ahead and use a little of that yummy crunchy sea salt here and there (especially that trendy pink kind you slice off a rock, it’s pretty), just don’t go balls out. A little does a body good.

salt

 

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