Art of Disguise: Sneaking Vegetables Into a Carb-Lover’s Diet

I might as well be watching Game of Thrones, blasting EDM and owning a cat I so hardly recognize myself: for the last several months, I’ve eaten ZERO vegetables. (Fine, zero may be an overstatement, but it’s been capped at, like, six total bites.)

Once a staple of my diet – I’ve literally been known to call kale chips my favorite food – vegetables have totally lost their luster for me this winter. And you can’t really blame me: New York City isn’t particularly known for its farm-fresh produce this time of year.

The farmers’ markets have been hawking nothing but cabbage, onions and last fall’s potatoes, and the perfect summer tomato is still a full fiscal quarter away. (Don’t @ me. I know its actually a fruit.) I even asked my west coast bestie to stop sending me salad recipes calling for “fresh spring greens” out of crippling jealousy. Bib lettuce may be paving the streets of San Francisco but it’s still an unattainable luxury in this concrete jungle where it definitely doesn’t yet feel like May.

But I’m wearing my spring bandana!

But (wo)man cannot live on carbs/meat/dairy/fruit alone, and I know I’ve got to find a way to add more veggies into my diet whether or not the arugula seeds I planted in my upstate garden ever poke through. Even if the off-season variety is boring as all heck, they’re still crucial for the fiber, nutrients and reduced risk of chronic diseases they provide, and I’ve got to convince myself to eat some.

So I’ve been doing everything I can to add more vegetables into my diet, or — let’s be honest — treating myself like a four year old in a bid to disguise all the healthy stuff I’m sneaking past my lips. For example:

  • To trick myself into eating carrots, I made this “carrot cake” smoothie, which, weirdly, was surprisingly good.

  • To trick myself into eating cauliflower, I made this cauliflower-crust pizza, which would have been better covered in pepperoni and/or build on top of a real pizza crust.

  • To trick myself into eating kale and sweet potatoes, I doused my Dig Inn “salad” in mac and cheese (no regrets.) 

Fortunately, my local upstate farmers’ market reopens on Sunday after a dark four-month hiatus, and hopefully it inspires me to love green things all over again. But in the meantime, at least I’ve been getting my green in other ways…

How do YOU sneak more vegetables into your meals?


On the Road Again

Eating healthy is easy, some smug soul will tell you without reading out loud the fine print.

Eating healthy is easy — when you’re at your own house, have no temptations in the fridge, have no plans to see friends and have all the time in the world to whip up a nutrient-packed home-cooked meal.

But when you aren’t in control of your own schedule, your access to food or even your meal times, eating well becomes exponentially more challenging. It’s hard when you’re staying overnight with family. It’s hard when you’re working late. It’s hard when you’re snowed in.

I need a hot cocoa and I need it stat.

And it’s extra hard when you’re traveling for work, staying at a conference hotel, working 16 hour days and subsiding on vending machines, coffee carts, freebies and (ugh) press food.

That’s right, folks: I’ve just returned from an industry conference and oooh I have the too-tight work pants to prove it!

(also all these pictures of cars)

But even though my week in Detroit wasn’t exactly the pinnacle of health, I did find some small ways to undo the damage living out of a suitcase was doing my waist line. These are manageable tips you, too, may want to adopt before your next business trip. (But not your next vacation. Live a little!)

#1. Check out the whole buffet before filling your plate.
Work conferences are famous for their abundant but bland lunch offerings, in which attendees keep going back for more and more because nothing’s satisfying. To make better choices, instead of going straight down the line like the sucker in front of you, scan the heating trays first to decide what two or three items would go well together. Then fill your plate with the salad at the start, add some roasted chicken or grilled steak from the hot food bar, throw on some veggies, and you end up having a pretty decent lunch. And skip the conference room brownies — they’re never good.

Unless you’re eating at Slow’s BBQ, in which case the “salad” was ribs.

#2. Stock up on produce wherever you can find it.
If you were smart and prepared, you may have packed some dried fruit or carrot sticks in your carry-on — but I wasn’t. And after spending the first 24 hours in Detroit without so much as seeing a vegetable, I knew I had to get serious. So for the rest of the trip, every time I was offered something green, I took it. Banana at breakfast? Check. Side salad at lunch? Check. Individually wrapped apple at checkout? Check. It wasn’t the super-food kale I was craving after several days of sugar rushes, but you take what you can get when you can’t shop for yourself.

Cause that’s a normal way to serve apples.

#3. Squeeze in a workout however you can.
On long work days, it’s a constant struggle — sleep an extra 45 minutes or work up a sweat in the hotel gym? I did manage to make it to the elliptical once or twice, but the rest of the time, I had to get creative. I did squats in the hotel room while I checked my email. I took the stairs at least a handful of times. I skipped the airport shuttle and hightailed it gate to gate. Pro-tip: if you pack your oldest running shoes that were already slated for retirement, you can leave them behind in the hotel room and make more room for the swag you’re inevitably bringing home.

Goodbye, beautiful NYC 2015 Marathon shoes.

Don’t get me wrong — for as tough as work travel is, it’s fun to get out of the office for a few days.

But it’s even more fun to come back home again.

Especially when this face is waiting for you. ❤

Welcome home, I suppose.

How do you keep healthy-ish on the road?


Celery? More Like Hellery

I try not to get political on this blog, so I’ll leave her position on the minimum wage, carbon emissions and whether or not The Lion King is `gay propaganda’ out of here. But regardless of your personal leanings, I think we can all agree former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has the most controversial and offensive favorite food of all time.

It’s celery. Barf.

I know, I know, celery is supposedly “the healthiest food in the world,” and its marketing team has done an excellent job convincing consumers they burn more calories chewing it than they take in. But let’s be real here for a second: It’s terrible. It’s fibrous and stringy and smelly and gross, and unless it’s doused in ranch dressing or peanut butter or cream cheese with raisins, it should be avoided at all costs.

Much like trying to do floor stretches when you live with a needy Swiss dog.

At least, that’s my take. Apparently the rest of the world doesn’t despise celery as much as I do, making me wonder if celery is my cilantro — a totally innocuous flavor for most that for some reason tastes to me downright offensive. I can handle it raw, like in a tuna salad, but throw celery into a sofrito or a stock or a mirepoix, and I swear it overpowers the entire thing. Sorry, world: This vegetable gets no love in my book.

So imagine my distress when I opened my CSA two weeks ago to discover the biggest head of celery this blogger has ever seen.

Stalks have not been enlarged to show texture.

I pride myself in successfully polishing off each CSA fully before the next one arrives, so when I first saw that bad boy 11 days ago, I put my disgust aside and came up with a game plan to put it to good use. After googling “celery recipes for people who don’t like celery,” I decided to make several celery-starring dishes to hopefully discover I’d been wrong about it all along. I found these three, which seemed totally out of the box and maybe just the kick I needed to finally understand this vegetable’s appeal:

  • Braised Celery with Tomatoes, Chickpeas & Bacon (link)
  • Challah, Mushroom and Celery Stuffing (link)
  • Celery and Fennel Gratin (link)

They were going to be delicious! They were going to be life changing! They were going to change my mind about celery once and for all!

They didn’t happen.

My next CSA comes tomorrow, and for the first time this summer, I’ll pick up a new box with one giant, unused vegetable still sitting in my fridge. To be fair, it hasn’t gone totally untouched: in addition to the above photo shoot, I also tossed a handful of the leaves into a veggie broth this weekend as an act of good faith. Of course, that made the broth taste like death, in my humble opinion, and I immediately regretted the decision, but at least a little of the celery went used.

So I’ve got to know, good people: is there a way to cook celery that honestly tastes good? I suppose I’d scarf it down if I filled it with shredded buffalo chicken and blue cheese (mmm brilliant idea, Anne), but I’d love to find a use that doesn’t completely negate the health benefits of the ingredient itself.

How do YOU celery-brate this unloved vegetable?

Food Weight Loss

“Don’t Reward Yourself With Food: You Aren’t a Dog.” (Or are you?)

I could point fingers any number of directions, but I most blame my tendency to reward myself with food on Pizza Hut’s early 90s BOOK IT! reading program.

My fellow Millennials know the drill: you’d read five non-homework books a month, have an adult drive you to your local Pizza Hut franchise and collect a personal pan pizza to reward your extracurricular scholarship.

Of course, this wasn’t the only place I was rewarded for good behavior with delicious, pepperoni-topped calories. From infancy through college, I was subconsciously taught food is an appropriate payment for a job well-done, and I bet you were too:

  • Finish your dinner, get dessert
  • Visit the doctor, get a lollipop
  • Win the canned food drive, get a pizza party
  • Perform a successful Christmas concert as first-chair clarinet, go out for ice cream with your dad because first-chair clarinetists tended to have very few friends

(I’m just kidding. Even nerds have friends!)

Old habits die hard, and I find I still reach for consumables as reward well into my 30s. Made it through a tough workday? That calls for take-out. Took a hard yoga class? I deserve a bagel. Raced a 10k? Let’s get softserve.

(To be fair, this was an ice-cream themed race, so they kind of forced it on it.)

Food-based rewards make sense when you’re training, say, your Bernese mountain dog to use stairs, but they aren’t the healthiest choice for someone trying to cut calories, rein in mindless eating or — mostly importantly for me — rewire an emotional attachment to food.

Lu’s favorite reward: coffee, two sugars.

So this summer, I tried an experiment. I’ve been trying to break my 2 p.m. dark chocolate addiction for months years ever, but after six hours at my desk, I always feel I’ve “earned” my sugary (antioxidant-filled!) treat. So I hit up the bulk food section at my office, inhale a half cup of almondy goodness and then find myself wondering the rest of the workday whether that was really the best use of my calorie deficiency.

Looking to break the chains (#redrising) of sugar addiction, I decided to see if anything could overpower the pull of food as a reward. So I went to Runners World’s website, found a cool tank top I’d been eyeing for months, and ordered it for myself. And when it arrived in the mail, I did the unthinkable: I didn’t open it.

Instead, I told myself I could have the shirt if I went all June long without touching the almonds. And you know what? I did it! And it wasn’t even that hard. Knowing I had a reward — a non-food one — waiting for me if I pulled through, I was able to beat the craving and make it through the month. (Of course, July marked a massive backslide, but baby steps.)

A running shirt worked for me, but it might be a different non-food reward that inspires you to make a change. Maybe you promise yourself a massage after a month of marathon training, or a manicure if you eat all your veggies this week, or you buy yourself a bouquet of flowers for taking the stairs, or treat yourself to a bubble bath for a day without sugar. Find what works for you, and give it a try.

Who know? You might break a habit once and for all. And if you don’t, at least you’ll have a cool new tank!


Running IS a natural high! Thanks, shirt!

How do you reward yourself without reaching for a New York slice?


Whole 30: The Second Time Around

Lots of things in life get better the second time around: leftover Chinese food, running a 10K, Wed Anderson’s entire collection.

And here’s hoping for one more: Whole30.

That’s right, folks. Today I begin my second Whole30, or 30 straight days of clean eating. Or if you didn’t follow along the first time, that means 30 days sans gluten, sans dairy, sans legumes, and sans sugar (including, gasp, alcohol). Or, for those glass half-full readers, it means 30 days of plentiful veggies, fruits, high quality meats and fish, and all the avocados you could ever desire.

I did my first Whole30 in April when I found a year of wedding planning had me reaching for a chocolate escape nearly every work day. I was a pretty healthy eater overall, but mindless snacking and occasional binges left me feeling constantly full, bloated and not quite in control of my own habits. So I committed to 30 days of clean eating, and it was eye-opening: I realized how emotional my eating was and put an end to it, cooked some amazing dishes and (apologies in advance for sounding like an afternoon special from the 90s) realized that I don’t even need a glass of wine to enjoy a night out. Preach!

When my first Whole30 ended, I decided I was still going to eat Whole30-ish, but between summer travel and weddings and life, that started to slip by the wayside. And then at my cousin’s wedding this past weekend, I ate 14 fried clam cakes in the span of 36 hours and my aching belly decided it for me: It was time to get back on the Whole30 wagon.

And apparently I’m not alone. According to the founders of the program, 85 percent of people who do a Whole30 come back for more. They warn that one in four repeaters find it harder the second time, but that’s half-empty talk: that means a  whopping seventy five percent find it easier. And, my god, I hope I fall into the second category.

And I think I will. That’s because going into round 2, I already know what works for me and what doesn’t, making grocery shopping a breeze. In fact, last night, I roasted a chicken, made stock and cooked up a week’s worth of breakfasts, since I know from experience preparation is the name of the game here. I ate my clean food all day long, and I didn’t feel even the least bit deprived. Of course, it helps that my meals were so delicious and filling.

For breakfast, I ate a swiss-chard and onion frittata, plus compliant coffee and a peach.


For lunch, I had roast chicken and carrots that had been cooked in the drippings of the chicken itself. i.e. vegetable heaven.


For dinner, I made buttercup (that’s correct; not butternut) squash soup, and sprinkled it with roasted squash seeds and pomegranate.


And now it’s bedtime, and I feel full and satisfied and ready to take on 29 more days. I may eat my words in a week’s time, but I think this time around is going to be easier.

At least, it’s going to include more roast chicken.


Have any of you done a second Whole30? Any tips?


Food Weight Loss

Whole30: The Final Day

It’s late May, and that means lots of things are coming to an end. School years. NBA finals. Allergy season. My patience in hearing “No Anne, let’s wait a little longer before we get a dog.”

Today marks the end of something else, too: my Whole30 adventure. (Though, to be fair, I now enter a 10-day reintroduction period that’s essentially another week and a half of the same, but I guess Whole40 didn’t have the same marketing ring to it.)
I know there’s nothing worse than hearing someone else talk about their diet, but indulge me just a little longer here: this diet was amazing. I’ve been following the rules and not weighing myself until day 31, so I don’t yet know if I lost any weight, but that wasn’t the point: the point was to reset my relationship with food, be more mindful in my choices, focus on whole products and learn that passing up free food isn’t the be-all-end-all I’d once thought it to be.

Of course, just because it was amazing doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard. Some days were more challenging than others, but with enough planning and my token unwavering stubbornness, I was able to pull through. And here’s what I learned when I did:

  • There is a real difference between belly hunger and head hunger, and you can teach yourself to tell them apart. If you ask yourself “am I hungry enough to eat this steamed fish and spinach?” and you aren’t, then you aren’t hungry. You’re bored.
  • Once you cut added sugars from your diet, you realize some things you take for granted are amazingly sweet. I’m not just talking apples and pineapples, though those certainly are. I’m talking carrots and parsnips and even some cuts of meat. Before starting Whole30, I added honey to my Greek yogurt daily without question. I’m excited to see whether the plain stuff by itself is enough for me now.
  • It’s OK to turn food down, it’s OK to go out with friends and not get a drink, and it’s OK to leave some food on your plate. I’m known around my apartment as “Depression Era Annie” who can’t help but consume everything she’s offered, but I learned this month that I’ll feel much better for much longer if I can muster the strength for one second to say no. No real friend is ever going to get angry that you got a sparkling water to toast their wine, or that you declined their homemade cookies.
  • Preparation is key to any healthy routine. Roll into work without breakfast in tow and you’ll end up sugar loading on cereals and snacks. Plan ahead, and you can dine on roasted butternut squash, avocado and homemade breakfast sausage, keeping you full ’til lunch. Seriously, some days I wasn’t hungry for lunch until 2 p.m. eating these big, protein and veggie-laden breakfasts. That has literally never happened to me before in my entire life.
  • I realized also that preparation time is a luxury, and one that the chronically over-worked and parents of small children in particular don’t necessarily have. I appreciate the extravagance of free time more than ever before after this process.
  • Speaking of breakfast sausage, it is extremely easy to make. Sauté some diced onions/garlic in olive oil, mix them into a pound of ground meat (I tried it with both pork and dark meat turkey), add a diced apple, a teaspoon of sage and salt/pepper. Form small patties and cook in olive oil or coconut oil until browned and cooked through. Cool on a paper-towel-covered plate. Easy peasy, and no weird additives.
  • Watch for weird additives. Most canned tuna contains soy. Most cured bacon contains sugar. Most conventional almond milk has an ingredient section longer than the list of minorities Donald Trump has offended. 

I have two more meals to get through today — including a lunch with some of my oldest friends that sadly can’t include a glass of rosé because goddamnit I’m finishing this thing to the end! — and then I begin the reintroduction phase, where I try one banned food every three days to find out what effect it has on me. I’m thinking of starting with dairy, because my black coffee is getting very old indeed, but I’m also considering starting with wine. Because, you know, these girls are in town. (At least a solid quorum of them.)

Thirty days ago, how many of you thought I was crazy to embark on this thing? Anyone inspired to follow in my paleo footsteps?


Whole30: A Runner’s Review

Whole30 is supposed to be good for a whole host of things — curbing your cravings, breaking your bloat, advancing your alliteration (apparently) — but it’s not particularly known for enhancing one’s athletic abilities.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise — runners primarily fuel their training with carbs, and Whole30 is at its core a low-carb diet. As such, most of my runs since starting this program have felt like a slog: heavy legs, no pick-up, and even some weakness and shaking around mile 2 that I can only imagine is my bloodstream begging for glucose. Considering I usually spend the better part of a marathon thinking exclusively about when I get to eat my next pack of gummies, it seems logical this sugar-free diet is not exactly ideal for the competitive circuit.

In fact, my few-and-far-between runs have been so unpleasant since starting this challenge that I was tempted to take the whole month off racing altogether. But then local running club NYCRuns made me a Godfather-like offer I couldn’t refuse — small race, $30 entry fee, gender-cut tech shirts, a flat course, flowers at the finish line — and I did what I’ve done so many times before: I put my better judgment beside me and signed up anyways.

The race — a Mother’s Day-themed 10K on Roosevelt Island — was undoubtedly going to be painful for me: I’ve been running less than 10 miles a week, I haven’t done any speed training, I’m off the carbs and, of course, I awoke Sunday morning to find it was pouring. Still, I made my way to the bus and then to the gondola and arrived at a misty starting line prepared for an embarrassing 10K performance of epic proportions.

The rain fortunately subsided right as I checked my bag, and when the horn sounded at the start of the race, I blasted off with more energy than I’d expected to feel. “It’s just last night’s banana and the carby sweet potatoes I ate for breakfast fueling me” I thought as I rounded the first mile marker. “As soon as I burn through those, I’ll be running on empty again.”
I made it to mile 3 at a surprisingly rapid 7:40 pace, faster than I’ve been in recent races by a landslide. And that’s where I saw it: a volunteer-manned table covered in cups of delicious, syrupy, carb-laden Gatorade. Should I grab a cup and reload my legs, which were surely about to use up the last ounces of stored carbohydrates? Or should I stick to water, power through and remain true to the 30-day challenge I set out to complete?
I opted for the latter, so I mentally prepared myself for the inevitable slowdown that I expected to hit any second. But then I didn’t slow down at mile 3. And I didn’t slow down at mile 4. And I didn’t slow down — more than normal at least — at mile 5, at which point I decided I wasn’t going to let any more women pass me between there and the finish line, in the far-fetched but slightly entertainable idea that I might actually be in the running for one of the age group awards. I rounded the last corner, barreled toward the finish line, and made my way directly to the generous post-race food spread, which was full of Whole30 compliant fresh fruit in addition to the token and forbidden bagels.

At most NYC races, I head for home immediately after crossing the finish line, since with the typical New York Road Runner’s event featuring thousands of people, the chance of placing is quite literally zero. But with just 236 people running this 10K — just 44 of whom were 30-39 year-old women — I thought I might have a chance. So I optimistically waited for the awards ceremony, and what do you know?

My 7:45 pace was just enough to eek me out an age group second place win! It wasn’t my fastest 10K ever — that honor goes to the June 2012 New York Mini at a 7:40 pace — but it was my second fastest, and that’s pretty impressive considering my lack of carbohydrates.
So impressive, in fact, that I started to do some reading after the race. What I found was that there’s an increasing amount of research suggesting a low-carb diet can teach your body to run on fat, a nutrient in which my curvy body is in no short supply! I’m not sure whether that process actually took place Sunday in a short 48-minute event — and I’m neither a doctor nor play one on TV — but it’s certainly some food for thought.
Phoning a friend: How have you performed when on a low-carb diet?


Food Recipes

Spaghetti Squash: The Final Frontier

My sister has taught me a lot of useful things in life: how to paper mache, where to hide Girl Scout cookies bought on the sly, which flavors of Lip Smackers taste good enough to eat (spoiler alert: all of them.)

Two and a half years my senior, she went before me in all walks of life — first to preschool, first to summer camp, first (fine, and only) to live in Mongolia — and passed on loads of wisdom and first-hand experience along the way as older sisters are wont to do.

Like how to get a stubborn niece to participate in a Fourth of July photo shoot.

At the ripe at of 30, I thought I had completed my sister-led education, but then I visited her in the Midwest last month and she introduced me to something totally new once more: the spaghetti squash.

Don’t get me wrong — I’ve HEARD of spaghetti squash — but due to some combination of fear and skepticism, I’d never actually bought or cooked one. Some of that is because it’s hard to trust something mascaraing as something else — is it spaghetti? is it squash? is it Keyser Soze?— but mostly because I simply didn’t know how to cook it.

I realize the internet is full of directions for how to prepare unfamiliar ingredients, but the masses were telling me all sorts of conflicting information: “Cook it whole!” “Slice it and roast face up!” “Slice it and roast it face down!” “Toss the squash in the trash and buy some pasta!” So I kept putting off familiarizing myself with this ingredient, much like I’ve put off watching The West Wing and other recommendations people say would be good for me.

And with so many other vegetables in my life, it hasn’t been a problem avoiding this specific one for three decades. But then I started Whole30 and I suddenly found myself needing a new vehicle for my tomato sauce. Flash forward to my visit with my sister, where she taught me to cook my very first spaghetti squash. And you know what?

I failed miserably! (And you thought I was going to say it was easy, didn’t you?) I didn’t realize you had to scrape seeds out of both sides, since I was afraid of losing the flesh that I knew eventually became the eponymous noodles. Still, once we picked all the baked seeds out of the piping hot squash halves, it was easier and more satisfying than I’d ever imagined to flake the squash into strands. We topped it with sauce and — more importantly — meatballs, and now I’m a convert.

For those of you like me avoiding this surprisingly delicious pasta substitute that doesn’t require a spiralizer, here’s how to do it:

  1. Buy a spaghetti squash. They are giant and yellow, and every local grocery store seems to have them.
  2. Wash it, cut it in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds while leaving the majority of the flesh. (I guess this is also the step where I should tell you to preheat the oven to 450 degrees.)
  3. Bake face down in a 450 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.
  4. Remove, let cook enough to handle, and then use fork to break up remaining flesh into noodles. It’s easier and more fun than it sounds.
  5. Top with sauce! In this case, Whole30 approved turkey marinara, but I imagine I’ll be doing this again with parmesan-filled pesto in 15 short days.
  6. Enjoy in front of a movie with your fiance (step 6 is not optional and is key to the success of the dish, I swear.)

What’s your favorite spaghetti squash preparation?

Training Weight Loss

The Resolution Will Be Televised

People in this world tend to fall clearly into one of two camps. They’re either morning people or late-night people. They either love olives or hate them. They’re dog or cat fans, introverts or extroverts, team Chris or Liam Hemsworth, and appalled by the GOP front runners or not paying attention.

They either believe in the value of New Year’s resolutions or they don’t, and they either feel Jan. 9 is too late to publish a resolution-themed post or they forgive me for living an insanely busy first two weeks of 2016.

If you’re already resolutioned-out, best to skip this post entirely and scroll directly to the wet goldendoodle photo I promise to paste at the end of this entry, because, that’s right folks, today we’re talking about New Year’s resolutions, deadlines be damned. So what if it’s already Epiphany?

Let’s start with those of you who fall into the “no resolutions for me” camp. Believe me, you’re in good company. About 50 percent of the population doesn’t make resolutions on Jan. 1, and, sure, I can understand some of the arguments why. It’s an arbitrary day to make a massive life change. It’s also a day many Americans wake up hungover and aren’t itching to get to the gym or eat anything other than a fried egg sandwich. Most of all, it can be demoralizing to set a goal, particularly a dramatic one, and see it fail in a matter of days when it was supposed to last 365. For those of you swimming against the resolution tide, you think it’s better to maintain an even keel than try to blow it out of the water during the coldest, darkest time of the year, and a part of me can totally understand that.

Heck, I kept successfully resolution free for the first 25 years of my life, and for the most part, life was good. I had great fun, I had great friends, I had a great bowl-shaped haircut that practically guaranteed I wasn’t going to get a boyfriend until college.

IMG_0347 (1)
I’m that feminine angel in the blue.

But in December 2010, after seeing dozens of unflattering photos of myself at one of my closest friend’s weddings, I finally decided it was time to rip off the no-resolutions band aid and dive head first into the new year. I decided that starting Jan. 1, I was going to count my calories, I was going to lose 30 pounds, I was going to run the 10-mile Broad Street Run in Philadelphia in May, and I was going to get my 20s back on track. And  — humblebrag, or maybe just regular brag — I did.

I also learned how to use illustrator programs more sophisticated that Microsoft Paint. Just kidding!

Coming off of my successful 2011 resolution, I set another lofty set of 2012 resolutions: start this blog, run a marathon, and floss. And I did that, too. (True story: Almost every night before bed, I try to negotiate my way out of flossing, and then I remind myself that if I ran a four-hour long road race four times, I can surely muster the strength to run a piece of plastic against my gums. But I don’t care what Dan Savage says about flossing: it never gets better.)

But in the years since those dynamite back-to-back years of successful resolutions, I’ve fallen back off the bandwagon. In 2013, I kind of resolved to cook more meals at home and rediscover yoga, which I kind of did, but not to any degree that is memorable. In 2014, I kind of resolved to train smarter, with at least one tempo run, one long run, and one speed workout each week, and I kind of did that too, but only when I was officially training for an event. By 2015, I was so disillusioned by those unsatisfactory performances that I returned to my pre-2010 ways: I didn’t make a resolution at all.

So this year, this was the great debate: make a new year’s resolution that might yet again go semi-unfulfilled, or skip the practice altogether?

Turns out, I compromised. I set two big goals for myself at the start of the year — attend BodyPump weight lifting class at least once a week and stay off Facebook when I’m laying in bed trying to go to sleep — and sure enough, one of these goals has already been annihilated. (I don’t even LIKE facebook anymore, but it won’t release me from its meme-filled clutches!) But I refuse to give up so easily on my second goal, and so far, I haven’t — it’s only Jan. 9, and I’ve already taken two BodyPump classes in 2016. Sure, this goal could still go by the wayside, but given my stubborn refusal to fail on both fronts this year, something tells me I’m going to pump my way through all of 2016.

Besides, my arms have to look good in a wedding dress in short order. Wouldn’t want Keira to be disappointed in me.

I told you I’d deliver.

Did you make a resolution this year? How is it going so far?


The Land of Milk and Honey

I used to think my favorite food was butter.

As a small child, I vividly remember sitting in front of an open refrigerator with my hand in the Land O’ Lakes, scooping palm full after palm full into my open mouth. And you wonder how I became a husky 5th grader.

It’s true though. Sweet and salty and creamy all at once, butter was the perfect food, and I melted it onto everything from the age of two forward: cinnamon toast, air-popped popcorn, microwaved mushrooms, spoons. I was a regular Andy Dwyer.

But now that I’m a grown-up with some concept of nutrition and caloric intake, I can proudly say that my culinary tastes have evolved. Although I will always have a soft spot for it in my heart — a soft spot that it undoubtedly helped cause — butter is no longer my favorite food. (Don’t worry, folks, I’m not going to jump on the 2013 hipster bandwagon and tell you my favorite food is kale, although roasted, sea-salted kale IS freaking delicious.)

It’s honey.

I love you, honeybear.
I love you, honeybear.
I know, I know, not the nutritional powerhouse you were expecting, considering honey is at first glance little more than glorified table sugar. But it’s so much more than that. As far as sweeteners go, it’s the least processed one, and unlike white sugar, it contains trace minerals and antibiotic properties. (Take that, Domino!). More importantly for this seasonal sufferer, honey made from local bees can reportedly help fight allergies, which is one major perk of purchasing at the farmers’ market instead of the grocery store.

About 75 percent of my honey intake comes in the form of food: drizzled over yogurt or stirred into herbal tea or whisked into salad dressings, and let’s not forget honey-filled baklava, which I clearly didn’t eat enough of this month in Greece.

Take me back.
Take me back.
But many people don’t realize honey also has non-food uses. Because of those antibiotic properties, it also makes an effective on-the-spot face cream, according to a(n arguably hippy) dermatologist I saw earlier this year who suggested Manuka honey face masks for particularly problematic skin. It sounded like wacky advice, but swapping out harsh chemicals for antibiotic-rich Manuka honey (available at vitamin and specialty stories) has weirdly made a difference in my skin. Between that and the coconut oil I used to wash it off, and my face routine is the most delicious concoction out there.

You knew you were going to look in my medicine cabinet at that dinner party anyways. I've just saved you a step.
You were going to look in my medicine cabinet at that dinner party anyways. I’ve just saved you a step.
With honey such an integral part of my nutritional as well as beauty routine, it only seems right to integrate it into my running as well. So when I went to JackRabbit Sports to purchase some new mid-run nutrition last week ahead of my planned 17 miler and stumbled upon Honey Stinger sports waffles (yes, you heard me right, Leslie Knope), I leapt with joy. Instead of throwing back energy gels of corn syrup or whatever other processed sugars they must be filled with to maintain by carbohydrates during marathon training, why not swallow ounces of the golden nectar itself?

So I bought a honey waffle and brought it with me on my last long run, and while it was delicious, it wasn’t the easiest-to-consume mid-run snack I’ve ever carried. It was essentially two thin cookies held together by honey, and as I tried to throw it back halfway up the West Side Highway after having carried it for the better part of two hours, I lost at least 1/6 of my crumbled snack to the pull of gravity. Still, I like the concept, and I’m planning on going back to try some of the brand’s other honey-filled, less awkward to consume products. I’ll report back.

Until then, I’ll keep doing my part to keep the world’s bee population (and diabetes doctors) in paychecks. Thanks, honey!

What’s your favorite food? Rare steak, caesar salad and peach cobbler are also appropriate answers, since, let’s be honest, they all tie with honey for me. [But you can’t eat a steak during a marathon. Or can you? Calling Ron Swanson! P.S. I’ve been watching a lot of Parks and Rec, if you can’t tell.]