Snack city, trick. Snack snack city, trick

There are a lot of things you can do without consequence while on vacation– wear red lipstick, use a fake name, or kiss your best friend. And although it’s easy to adopt the “I’m out of town, calories don’t exist” mindset, when it comes to gaining weight, what happens on vacation doesn’t stay on vacation. This is the battle I face this weekend and next week when I’ll be out of town, as I mentioned yesterday. Though I don’t have much control over choosing the restaurants we’ll go to this, I am able to pack on-the-go snacks that fit within my 150 calorie limit and will keep me full enough to maintain my right state of mind when there’s something carby and cheesy staring back at me from the dinner menu.

From top to bottom: Planter’s Heart Health Nut-rition bar (160); Weight Watchers smoked mozzarella stick with 11 Five Grain Wheat Thins (50 + 100); 1 oz. turkey jerky + 12 almonds (70 + 80); 1 oz pistachios (150)

When you’re choosing snacks, try and pair a protein with a carbohydrate. Eating carbohydrates (chips, crackers, fruit, etc.) alone won’t keep you full as your body burns through them very quickly. A fibrous carbohydrate will help keep you fuller for longer, and adding in a protein too will make it even more satisfying. Nuts are great because they’ve got both, plus healthy fats that will slow your digestion. Triple threat.

Now, do you still feel like you have an excuse to eat that 3 pm Sprinkles cupcake?

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I’ll be road tripping a couple of times in the coming week, and as much as I’d like to use this as an excuse to not work out, I’m too painfully aware that there are options. Yes, I could go on a run but I hate running, and I’m like 95% sure I have a sports injury, which I’m simultaneously depressed and thrilled by. Depressed because it’s hindering my workouts and, therefore, my journey to slenderhood. Thrilled because getting hurt working out is a lot cooler than getting hurt doing other things, like twisting your ankle getting out of the bed of a truck or having your big toenail get ripped off by a cowboy boot on a moving short bus. Or at least that’s what I’ve heard.

Aaaaand, I digress. Options, right. There are other fitness-y things you can do when you’re limited by a lack of equipment and space. Take a look at what I’ll be doing over the next week while I’m far from home and my faithful Ultimate Conditioning class.

This series of workouts is based on the muscle confusion principle. By regularly changing up your routine, your body will be forced to adapt to dynamic circumstances instead of becoming accustomed to a pattern. All of the moves are of the CrossFit variety, which focus on building strength, cardiovascular fitness and endurance through body weight-bearing exercises.

Here are the moves:
1. jump squat– the higher you go, the more you burn. Great for cardio and strength.
2. butterfly situp– focus on using your core to lift you, not the momentum of your arms like this guy. If you can’t get all the way up, just crunch.
3. burpees– I can’t lie, these suck. You’ll be out of breath in a handful of reps.
4. triceps dip– as she explains, the closer your feet are to your body, the easier it’ll be. Use a chair, step, bench, sidewalk, whatever. You’ll feel it.
5. lunge hop– again, cardio and strength.
6. pushup–  I try and do as many as I can on my toes and then drop to my knees when I reach the point of failure.

Now, using those moves, you’ll choose from one of the following sequences three or four times a week, trying a different sequence every workout:
a) total time: 10 reps of each move, moving on to the next one without rest. Do as much as you can in 15 minutes. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]
b) total countdown: 60 reps of the first move, 50 reps of the second, 40 seconds of the third, until you’re down to 10 reps of the last move. [2, 1, 6, 5, 4, 3]
c) total rounds: 12 reps of each move, moving on to the next one without rest. Do 5 rounds. Next time you do this sequence, try and beat your previous time. [3, 4, 5, 2, 6, 1]
d) total reps: do as many reps as you can without stopping in between exercises. After a minute’s rest, repeat the sequence twice more. On every new round, try and beat the amount of reps you did the previous round. [5, 6, 2, 3, 1, 4]

I hope you still like me after this.

Source: Women’s Health magazine (July/August 2012)

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Hasta la Tofu Pasta

Since I’m a woman of the people, I’m giving you what you asked for– a recipe. I thought it’d be fitting to incorporate an item from my Slender Specialty Store Staples, Tofu Shirataki noodles. Normally I go pretty simple with these, some veggies, a little marinara, and some chicken. This Virgin Pasta Alla Vodka, however, is totally decadent. Seriously, it’s so rich I almost couldn’t finish. And then I remembered that I’m not insane and had the last few bites. Without copious amounts of heavy cream, this sauce is not as light in color as the original. But, what it’s lacking in pink hue, it’s also lacking in calories.

Virgin Pasta alla Vodka

Servings: 1 | Calories: 294 | Fat: 10 g | Carbohydrate: 20 g | Fiber: 7 g| Protein: 31 g

1 package Tofu Shirataki noodles (available at Whole Foods)
3.5 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast
PAM Original or Olive Oil
1/2 T minced garlic
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
1/4 T Italian herbs
1/3 C diced white onion
1/2 C Prego Light Smart
2 Laughing Cow Light cream cheese
2 T skim milk
1/4 T red chili pepper flakes
1/2 T grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Open the bag of shirataki noodles and pour into a sieve to drain and rinse them. Then put them into a bowl lined with a paper towel to dry them. Once they’re sufficiently dry, remove the paper towels and nuke ‘em in the microwave for 1 minute. These directions are all on the pouch, by the way.

2. Coat a medium size pan with PAM and crank up the heat to medium. Throw in the minced garlic and let it brown.
3. While the garlic is browning, coat both sides of the chicken with the salt, pepper, and Italian herbs.
4. Add the chicken to the hot pan and cook on both sides. When finished, the outside should be golden brown and the chicken will be white throughout. Take it out of the pan and set aside (if you’re going to cut it into smaller pieces, let it sit awhile so the juices don’t immediately flow out upon cutting it).  5. Re-coat the pan with PAM and throw in the diced onions to brown them.
6. Add the Prego sauce, Laughing Cow cheese, and milk. Stir until the cheese is totally melted and the sauce is a pinkish-red color.

7. Toss in the noodles and then spoon everything onto a dish.
8. Top with chicken, red chili pepper flakes (if you like some spice), and Parmesan cheese.
9. Warn everyone around you that you’ll probably be licking the bowl.

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Out On The Town: Steak

In the last week or two, my family went out for steak twice. I’m not sure if it’s because we’re from Texas or if it’s because we descended from carnivores. Either way, it happened and I lived to tell the tale. The first steak dinner, eaten at Ruth’s Chris, was for Father’s Day and I reserved my weekly cheat meal for the event. It was a good thing my dress had an elastic waistband, because I went all out. Our second steak dinner couldn’t have been more different. The club near our house was having a steak night in the middle of the week, and since my mom was tired of “cooking” (read: reheating), we went. I had no intention of blowing my cheat meal on yet another steak, so I had to make some choices. Let’s compare:

- starter: piece of bread + butter, ahi tuna
entrée: 8 oz. filet mignon
sides: 1.5 GIANT onion rings, 1 million* shoestring fries, sautéed mushrooms (I mean I am eating healthy, right?)
dessert: bites of flourless chocolate cake and bread pudding

What can I say? I go HAM at my cheat meals.

starter: I asked for the house salad with dressing on the side, but I got a plate of baby greens covered in balsamic vinaigrette, sprinkled with cheese and candied nuts. If it’d been a cheat meal, I probably would’ve eaten the whole thing with just my face, no fork. Alas, not everyday can be cheat meal day (or Christmas), so I picked at the green parts of the salad and left most of it on the plate. Notice that I didn’t stuff my gullet with bread either (ugh).
entrée: I ordered the filet special, which consisted of a 6 oz. filet and 3 skewered shrimp. I asked (read: harassed) the waiter for no oil, butter, or anything delicious on the steak. And then I confirmed that he understood like twelve more times. When the steak came, I went ahead and cut off about 1/3 of it and put it on a separate plate with the shrimp so I wouldn’t eat those. I really don’t even like shrimp so that was no biggie. If you like the shrimp, eat them, but also eat less steak.
sides: asparagus (“And can I get no oil on the asparagus, too? No butter either. I mean just, like, make it as healthy as you can. Really, I want it to taste like grass. Actually, do you have grass? That might have fewer calories.”)*, 1/4 of a baked potato with a lot of chives, a little bacon and cheese, salt & pepper
dessert: the sweetness of knowing I wouldn’t wake up the next morning 10 pounds heavier

What you should get out of this post, aside from the fact that I’m an absolute joy to dine with, is that in order to eat healthily at steak restaurants and others like it, you need to be vocal. It may seem awkward at first to be such a nag to your waiter, but they’re getting paid to deal with people like you. Just remember to say please, smile, and a little cleavage never hurts (kidding). There really shouldn’t be a problem with any customization, especially if you’re at a nicer place. Always ask for dressing on the side. ALWAYS. Always ask for little to no oil or butter on your meat and sides. Always think about the cut and portion of the meat you’re eating. Round and loin (filet is a cut from the tenderloin) cuts are the most lean. You should be eating 3-5 ounces.

Now, get out there and be THAT person.

*Portions of this post may have been dramatized


I’m pretty sure I’ve made this clear, but who doesn’t love a little bit of self-deprecation? I got fat abroad. If you’re a reader of this blog, I don’t want you to get fat abroad. It doesn’t look good for me, and it really won’t look good for you. Use these tips (and my exercise advice) to stop the cycle before it starts, or at least do some damage control on the pounds you’ve already accumulated while galavanting about the big world.

1. Plan ahead as much as possible. I often found myself reaching the point of starvation before I’d finally sit down to a meal either at home in Barcelona or while traveling. This inevitably led to me eating way, way more than I should have. If you’re in your hometown, avoid this by keeping a healthy, filling snack on you at all times. A single serving bag of nuts or a fiber bar is an easy way to go. If you’re traveling, take charge of part of your trip by planning the restaurants. That way, you’re sure not to be the leech of the group and you’ll be making moves toward slenderhood!

2. Eat at home whenever you can. When you make your own food, you have control of the stuff you put in it. And if you’re the smart and slender girl/boy that I know you are, you’ll put good stuff in your food. Just one tablespoon of olive oil has 120 calories and I promise you, Chef Jacques is not using that weapon of mass destruction with very much discretion. He doesn’t care about your waistline. But, if you do, you’ll eat at home.

So I probably wouldn’t have covered my own salad with fries…

3. The breadbasket is your enemy. The average dinner roll has upwards of 150 calories. Grab a couple of these dipped in a few spoonfuls of olive oil, and you’ve already eaten a meal’s worth of calories. If you’re a bread lover, go ahead and eat a piece, but just have one. Don’t eat the stuff mindlessly. If you don’t need it or appreciate it, don’t even bother getting the basket. Ask the waiter not to bring it out. If you’re in Europe, you’ll save yourself a couple pounds and a couple Euros by forgoing el pan.

4. Eat tapas style. Tapas are small plates that are shared with the entire table. Sharing your food is a great way to try everything without stuffing yourself in the process. Order the tapas in phases so you’ll be forced to eat more slowly. You’ll be shocked by how little food you need volume-wise to feel satisfied.

Una pequeña ensalada con un montadito

5. Make your meals coordinate. Many people complain that everything in Europe is full of carbs, but I think it’s that what we’re drawn to choose is full of carbs. What I mean by making your meals coordinate is that you should alternate what makes up the bulk of your meals. If you have cereal or toast for breakfast, have a salad with a protein for lunch, and a protein with a starchy side (corn, potatoes) for dinner. If you have eggs for breakfast, go ahead and have that sandwich for lunch. This way of thinking doesn’t take much effort but can completely change the way you eat. And the way you bash on the delicious food available to you.

If you still feel like you’re failing miserably and packing on the pounds, don’t let it get you down. When, at the tail end of my trip, I’d finally come to terms with how much weight I had gained, I couldn’t get it out of my head. My self confidence plummeted, I wasn’t as outgoing and I wasn’t having as much fun. I’ve been home for a little over a month now and, after working really hard, I’m back to my normal weight. I think if I’d known how quickly I’d get back to normal, I would’ve been able to focus on the experience instead of my muffin top. So, above all else, enjoy yourself. But, hey, if my tips save you some grief and a couple pounds, why not?

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