Sunday, July 31, 2011

my less serious day: sunday over easy

Nothing about my Sunday is serious.


Skirt: Forever 21; tank: Old Navy; short necklace: street vendor in Montreal; long necklace: LOFT outlet; sandals: OluKai via Zappos.


Since I exercise so much during the week, I typically don't do formal workouts on the weekends. My body needs a chance to recover and I need a chance to be lazy. But, because I knew I had a busy week ahead I fit in a 30-minute run at working pace this morning. And unless couch-sitting counts, that was that.


For me, the weekends not only mean a more relaxed workout schedule, but also a bit of relaxation to my normal eating routine. That means weekends are the time for some splurges including going out to eat and indulging in dessert and alcohol. Having said that, I try to do these things mindfully and in moderation. After all, life is about balance.

Today, I was meeting a close friend for brunch around 11:00, so along with my coffee for a post-run pre-brunch snack I had a bowl of fresh fruit (red and green grapes, pineapple, and cherries).

For brunch, I ate two eggs over easy, sliced tomato, and a slice of honey whole wheat toast. It doesn't look like much, but it was delicious. In the afternoon, I had a a Pink Lady apple, sliced with a tablespoon or so of crunchy peanut butter. And, because it is Sunday and I am crazy like that I had a glass of red wine before dinner.

Dinner was out to eat with friends again and I had a bowl of browned tofu and steamed vegetables over brown rice cooked in soy sauce and a luxurious nutritional yeast gravy. Dessert was a homemade chocolate chip cookie.

And, I'm afraid that brings my Sunday to a close. Let the seriousness begin.

Friday, July 29, 2011

commentary: the 3 shoes rule

I have a genetic pre-disposition that causes me to desire many pairs of shoes. It's true. Just walk in my mom's closet and you will quickly see what I'm in for. Like many of us, my inclination is to buy, buy, buy. But, because I realize that there are (perhaps) more important things to purchase in life than shoes, I created the 3 shoes rule. For me, it is a way to fulfill my shoe craving, while maintaining control.

Figure 1. Three shoe choices from spring/summer 2010 (left: Tsubo heels, center: Rocketdog wedges, right: Target gladiators).

If you have this same affliction you know the feeling you get when a new fashion season (i.e., spring/summer or fall/winter) is beginning: that insatiable desire for new shoes (don't even get me started on the clothes/accessories). My rule allows me to purchase three new pairs of shoes per fashion season.

Figure 2. Three shoe choices from fall/winter 2010 (left: Anthropologie boots, center: Steve Madden boots, right: Urban Outfitters heels).

For me, this means being a few months 'behind' the fashion curve while I sit back and blog-stalk my fashion inspirations to see what shoes I just can't live without. Next, I make a mental list of the general types of shoes I want to buy (e.g., tall brown boots, brown wedges, flat t-strap sandals). Then, the research begins. The majority of my purchases are done online and I search site upon site (e.g., Piperlime, 6pm, Zappos, Endless) to see the available choices and variations in style and price. I spend hours doing this. Yes, hours. I select candidates and ask others' opinions, read online comments about comfort, and try them on (look for free shipping/returns). Order your favorites, try them on, and wear them around your house. Yes, I have trotted around my house in PJ's and high heels all night to test their comfort.

Figure 3. Three shoe choices from spring/summer 2011 (top: Frye wedges, bottom: OluKai sandals). One choice remaining and I am eyeing these).

Then, carefully, select your three pairs. In the end, you have satisfied your desire for new shoes, participated in new trends, and added to your collection, all while staying in control.

(Note: Sometimes you may get shoes as gifts and these certainly don't count. And sometimes you may encounter a really fantastic pair after you have picked your three. A splurge, every now and then, is perfectly acceptable. Mom, this note is for you.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

my less serious day: fried cheese ball

Your day can't be too bad if a fried ball of cheese is involved, right?


Skirt: J Crew outlet; top: Target; necklace: LOFT outlet; mini-wedges: Jessica Simpson via Marshalls


I started the day with a 30-minute stationary bike ride (ramp interval) plus a 10-minute walk with L. I fit in two more 10-15 walks today: one after lunch and one after returning home from the gym in the evening. I ended my day with a 60-minute cycling class (hills and sprints, emphasis on sprints).


For breakfast I had a bowl of Kashi Golden Goodness with almond milk and blueberries. I had plans to go out to lunch with friends so I ate a Golden Delicious apple around 11:30 to take the edge off my hunger. This (usually) keeps me from diving head first into the bread basket and making super-unhealthy choices. Today, it worked.

Ahhh, lunch. This particular restaurant, my friends, is home of the best spinach salad I have ever had in my entire life. Ever. It contains fresh spinach, golden raisins, smoked bacon, tomato and toasted almonds, all tossed lightly in a basil and roasted poblano dressing. Oh, and let's not forget the crispy (i.e., fried) mango chevre on the side. I died.

Pre-workout I had a few almonds. For dinner, I made these simple roasted vegetables. Tonight it was squash, zucchini, onions, and broccoli. Coat a baking sheet in cooking spray and toss vegetables (for me, enough to satisfy my ogre-sized vegetable intake plus leftovers) in cooking spray, just a touch of good olive oil, salt, and whatever herbs you have around the house. I used dried Italian herbs and fresh parsley. Bake at 450 for 20 minutes, turning once. A veggie-lovers heaven.

Dinner was roasted vegetables, a Morningstar chicken patty, and a small serving of wild mushroom and herb couscous (Near East). Dessert was a Fiber One chocolate fudge brownie.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

the cereal experiment: Kashi Golden Goodness

Just admit it, the anticipation has been killing you. Dear readers, I am happy to bring you the results of the first test case in the cereal experiment: Kashi Golden Goodness.

Results. Kashi Golden Goodness meets all of my criteria and has a surprisingly sweet taste with exciting granola clusters for great texture. And yes, granola clusters are exciting. The box says it is sweetened with a touch of honey, but I swear I taste a faint coffee flavor as well. And, given that I love coffee - this is an added bonus.

The flakes are abnormally tiny (which get soggy quickly) and should probably be called flakettes. The flakettes plus those great granola clusters led me to give it an average score for texture. On the positive side, the serving size is 1.25 cups. Larger quantity = more eating = happier Sara.

Let's talk nutrition (Table). The first ingredient is Kashi's seven grain blend, and I think Kashi probably knows what they are doing. For only 210 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, and a low 15% of calories from sugar you also get 6 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein. All this for 28.5 cents/ounce (at my local Kroger).

Add some almond milk and raspberries and this cereal is a winner. This one could be a real contender. (And yes, my raspberry still has a stem on it and I probably (okay, definitely) ate it - extra fiber?).

One cereal down, many more to go.

Monday, July 25, 2011

weekend review: brussels sprouts

I have only been cooking for a year or so. Before that, I made do with sodium-filled and nutrient-deprived frozen and boxed dinners. With a little motivation (and a little help) from my always hungry boyfriend, M, we attempt to create tasty and healthy meals every Saturday and Sunday night. The weekend review is a summary of that weekend's cooking adventures, in photos.

 Figure 1. In preparation: sauteed Brussels sprouts with lemon and pecan

Figure 2. Saturday night's dinner: smoky pan-grilled pork chops, Brussels sprouts with lemon and pecan, and rice pilaf (Near East).

Figure 3. Sunday night's dinner: spinach feta lasagna and steamed broccoli.

(all photos taken by M)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

the sock experiment

Background. Who puts a picture of their own feet on their blog? I do. I run a lot, but have never worn anything but cheap cotton 'sports' socks. In fact, the socks I wear most often are inexpensive sports socks that my Grandma got me one year for Christmas (no offense Grandma). I have always figured that these were good enough, but are they? As you can see, it is time for a new pair. Do I invest in something more sophisticated?

Running socks are special because they are not made of cotton. This is said to provide them with better moisture control to help prevent rubbing, blistering, and soreness. Certain brands also provide extra cushioning. But, running socks are $10-15 per pair. That's a happy hour mojito (or two).

Objective. To determine if non-cotton running socks are worth the price.

Methods. Select 3-5 different types of running socks. Wear each type through 1-2 weeks of running (with a typical week of about 15-20 miles). Compare each experience to that with my old, faithful, cotton-laden pair. Document sock experience in terms of comfort (feet temperature, cushion, overall feel), moisture-level, amount of blistering/rubbing, and price. Describe each pair in terms of fiber composition, special features or technology. Choose the best and enjoy running even more.

(Photo taken by my patient and talented boyfriend, M, and his fancy camera. These are my actual socks, not an imitation.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

my less serious day: the first

Fashion bloggers post daily outfits (e.g., Kendi Everyday). Food/fitness bloggers post daily meals/workouts (e.g., Fitness with a Fork). Me? With a little help from my retro-inspired floor-to-ceiling closet doors, I thought I would post all three (except not daily - a girl's got to draw the line somewhere), in a little series I call my less serious day.

I am not perfect. And, the thing I really love about others' posts is that they are from real people with real lives. In that, there is something truly motivating and inspiring. So, if I feel like wearing flats and drinking beer - that is what I am going to do. My goal is to be real. And, sometimes real life calls for comfy feet and empty calories.

Skirt: Hype via ideeli; top: Banana outlet; belt: J Crew outlet; necklace: via ideeli; wedges: Rocketdog via Piperlime

Today began with a 60-minute run at conversational pace with L (my pup). Post-lunch I took my typical 10-minute walk. After work, I took a 60-minute Body Pump class (this is how I get so deezed). I capped off the day by appeasing L when I got home with a 15-minute walk. 

For my post-run breakfast I had a bowl of Special K Fruit & Yogurt cereal (don't judge, I have to finish the box) with raspberries and almond milk. Late morning, I wanted something sweet (as usual) so I satisfied this craving with a dried prune (what?).

Lunch is usually a Lean Cuisine (snooze-fest). My afternoon snack was a fantastically delicious Pink Lady apple accompanied by almonds and raisins. Adding protein to my afternoon snack does wonders for my hunger and afternoon workouts.
Dinner was baked lemon pepper chicken (Mrs. Dash marinade), steamed broccoli, and leftover herbed couscous. So, let me just say what you are all thinking. That is a hell of a lot of broccoli. Yes, I eat obscene quantities of vegetables.
In fact, for your reading pleasure I measured. This is 3.5 (almost 4) cups of broccoli. I love vegetables and they love me. That is that. Dessert was plain Greek yogurt, pecans, and honey.

And that's my less serious day.

(Note: I don't usually track my calories in/out. I occasionally analyze my diet via SparkPeople to monitor protein/calcium/sodium/etc. intake. I do have calorie ranges I aim for each meal/snack. I do watch my serving sizes. I do watch the types of foods I eat. I exercise frequently. I figure it balances out. If you want more details - comment!)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

the cereal experiment

Background. I have an addiction to sugary cereals. 'Healthy', yet sugary cereals. My current vice? Special K Fruit & Yogurt. Sure, there is a fit woman in a skimpy bathing suit on the box - but, that woman is getting too much sugar (37% calories from sugar), not enough protein (1g), and not enough fiber (3g). I bet she's a skinny, but cranky woman. I eat cereal every morning, so maximizing the healthiness of this meal is crucial.

Objective. To find a truly healthy cereal that tastes great.

Methods. Select (and eat) one new healthy cereal per week (or so) based on the following criteria: less than 25% of calories from sugar, at least 5 grams of fiber, at least 5 grams of protein, a first ingredient of 'whole wheat', and no super gross and unnatural ingredient listed within the first three ingredients (adapted from: Magee 2007). Evaluate each cereal for taste, texture, and enjoyability. Document price per ounce, serving size, calories, and fat. Choose the best and enjoy breakfast even more.

(image via The Nibble)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

something must come first

By day I do serious research (I promise), but in my downtime I live for the less serious things. And while documenting my hours of Bravo TV-watching would be thrilling, I'm sure, I have decided to devote this blog to the three pursuits that make me a stronger, happier, and healthier person - food, fitness, and fashion.

So brace yourselves for posts that merge the world of health and fashion with science. Experiments will be conducted, meals will be documented, workouts will be examined, outfits will be assessed, and spreadsheets will keep everything neat, tidy, and quantified.

My life is not abounding with free time, so I can't promise a post everyday. But, I can promise that each post will be thoroughly conceptualized and scrutinized - in the way only an academic can.