Monday, August 27, 2012


This is my view while crossing over the river that separates our college campus from the athletic campus--a bridge I cross almost daily as part of my daily work up for practice 

For fall athletes, such as myself, summer always ends early, and we embark on a very special time of year...preseason. Kicking it off with fitness testing, two-a-day practice schedules, pre-game meals, scrimmages, practices, and ice tubs to recover, preseason before everyone arrives on campus is something that only a portion of college athletes get to experience. While not always fun, it's a time before all the trials of classes and dorm life can interfere with your performance. The number one objective? Do work. Whether it's learning plays, conditioning, or just flat out putting it all into your sport for these two weeks of the year, it's nice to be able to drop absolutely everything else in your life for your team--and that's an opportunity that doesn't come around too often!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Places: Beach Vacation

There's something to be said for finding one of those rare places left that has character. My family has been going to the same beach since the 1980's and it's one of the only places I know of untouched by Starbucks and shopping plazas, boardwalks and fast food chains. Well, to be fair, they do have one McDonalds, but that's been there as long as the island so I consider that particular set of golden arches part of the island's charm.

It's called Chincoteague Island, VA. In the small, mostly retired, town is a feeling of what my dad calls "unpretentiousness" which is really refreshing. It makes no attempts at flash or flair, much like it's laid-back citizens. In fact, it wallows in it's genuine antique feel. It's crafty and quaint without having to try, and just a conversation with anyone hanging around a dock will give you a little insight into the ups and downs a beach town like this will have over the years between recessions, dry spells, and hurricanes. Nevertheless, it keeps coming back in a refreshing blend of old favorites and new additions to the island. 

Our favorite things to return to, besides the beach, are the small mom and pop places to nosh on some great old-fashioned ice cream and gourmet sandwiches. Restaurants here tend towards diner style toward the beach and mix in some higher end seafood options farther inland. The beach itself is actually located inside the Assateague Wildlife refuge, known for it's wild pony population that sometimes gets spotted roaming the beaches on hot days. The refuge keeps the beachfront free of the boardwalk atmosphere and gives this place a natural feeling that colors the whole town as a place that--while it might be taken over by Mother Nature someday--will not bend to this century's corporate interests. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Thinking about indulgence

I've recently been doing some thinking about the way I use sweets. I say "use" because I'm convinced that the way we think about indulgence as associated with being "naughty" or breaking "diet rules" is inherently part of a cultural discourse of about "fat" and "skinny" more than about our actual bodies. 

I'm definitely part of this "we." I count calories, pay attention to nutrition facts. I feel bad when I eat ice cream or go out for a big burger. But what I've notice and what frustrates me is, as a person who is fit and doesn't need to necessarily watch my weight right now, the bombardment of health consciousness that we find in the news, magazines, and television nevertheless makes me feel bad about indulging. And I think this is having a bit of a backfire effect.

When I flip through my Pinterest or look at a menu, I can't help but get that giddy feeling when I see something so decadent, so indulgent that part of me genuinely thinks I could never have it. The part of me that enjoys fitness magazines and diet tip blogs and gets jealous of models--that part is saying "I'm not the kind of person that could even enjoy a thing like that!" But i know that's probably not true. The more realistic thing to say is "You might feels so guilty about that that it's not going to be worth it..." But when confronted with a pint of Ben & Jerry's, or a tub or nutella, it's hard not to feel oh, so good about being oh sooo bad. I call it the "forbidden fruit" phenom. All this thought about NOT eating stuff has made us that much more fascinated with it. Food fantasy, food porn...there's a lot of metaphors to get after the "fat foodie" culture we've developed, but I've tried to break it down a little more whollistically. 

1) The Foodie personality: the unabashed food lover who probably blogs, photographs, and likes to refer to eating as an "experience". Food is glamorous, critiqued, and a source of daily excitement. Thing about foodies is that they are rarely fatties...and those that post the most fantastic cupcakes and luscious pies tend to be reasonably thin. These people seem to be practitioners of the so-called French philosophy--that if you take time to enjoy your food then it doesn't matter so much what you eat because you'll naturally eat less, of stop at your natural satisfaction point and stay at a healthy weight. Food obsession turned diet trick...sounds like the best of both worlds? 

2) The Cheat Sheet-er: the offshoot of the Foodie that recognizes food is not always glitz and glam. Kitchens are messy, frozen foods beckon, take-out runs rampant...the food jungle is a dangerous place indeed! These people find ways to tackle cravings by substituting dairy froyo with a mashed frozen banana and cocoa powder mixture (ehem...look at that "zucchini ravioli"). They substitute baked zucchini and sweet potatoes for potato chips and french fries. They turn gourmet into everyday and take ravishing instagram photos of their creations to make us think we can do it too! Which, perhaps we can, or at least take a page from their books (blogs, more likely). The problem with cheat sheeting, though, is that you still can't forget that what you're doing is making alterations, adjustments, and substitutions to satisfy a craving for something you've decided you shouldn't have (and which would, honestly, be easier to make or buy). This is an integral part of the culture of abstaining from fattiness (different from fat abstinence because, as magazines can tell you, some fat is actually healthy). It's part of the narrative of not being a fat personality that makes this type of lifestyle seem so attractive. 

3) The Diet Blogger: the ones who have reformed or are trying to reform their fattiness...sounds harsh, but it's true. Social dieting is a powerful type of motivating tool to help people stay connected with their goals when it comes to health. But, these often include individuals who speak from their own experience only and relatively few actual credentials. Nevertheless, you have to applaude people's efforts to put themselves out there and make a life change. So where did we end up? From all of this I've decided to design my own diet philosophy that combines a bit of everything... See Phoodosophy


Main idea: identify what you really want and find a way to incorporate it into healthy meal plans. it's been done? I don't really care. Like the ambitious diet bloggers, I'm going to go right ahead and share.

I start by breaking the week down into weekdays and weekends--because the change in schedule, workouts, and social situations often varies drastically and it would be unwise to ignore that when making a diet plan.


As an athlete, these tend to be my practice days--which means four fairly intense practices and one less intense day. Because of this, I need to do a good job incorporating mixtures of carbs, lean protein, and fruits & veggies...sound familiar? That's what I'm good at--knowing what I need. What I'm bad at? Knowing how much to eat and not forbidding myself indulgences that ultimately catch up with me.

Plan: eat an average of 1800 calories a day--more on hard training days and less on others. Plan ahead of time so that calories are spread between three core meals: breakfast (350-400 cals), lunch (450-550 cals), dinner (500-550 cals). That leaves approximately 300 flexible calories for throughout the day.

Indulge: for every week, identify one indulgent food and one indulgent activity to be used whenever I want during that time frame! That way, if I'm feeling like all I want is to scratch that "being bad" itch, I can start to identify if it's something that comes from a food craving or from just a desire for that bit of excitement.

These tend to be my competition days, when nutritional consciousness is most important! The night before competition, I like to eat a larger dinner (600-650 cals) with plenty of protein and avoid snacking until it's time for a pre-game breakfast (350-400 cals). An hr before game time, I'll have a pre-game snack (100-150 cals). Post-game, refueling is important, so complex carbs and protein are go-tos (500-600 cals). Then, a late dinner (500 cals) will keep me going until the next day.

Problem areas: the post-game meal is generally a family & friend fueled affair filled with snack platters, sandwiches, past, and dessert--which kicks in the "little bit of everything" habit that turns into "a lot of everything." To avoid this, I'm going to limit myself to two shifts at the dessert table and increase my fluid intake during tailgates. Plate number one is dedicated solely to nutrition--hit all the bases with the healthiest options available. With this plate, I'll also try to drink a full 16 oz of water. A second (smaller) plate gets dedicated to treats or second helpings. The caveat to this plate--if there's only huge helpings of something, only take half or ask someone to share it!

Sunday Sundaes:
One of my biggest problems arrives on Sun, when our dining halls serve up an elaborate sundae bar. In the past, I've been known to succumb to seconds...and thirds. I'm hoping that the promise of a mid-week indulgence will help alleviate this. The goal I'm setting is to have no more than one sundae on non-tailgate days and (try) to avoid the dining hall on tailgate days, instead making plans for a late dinner by packing a meal or stealing something from the sandwich platter earlier in the day.

Weekends come with parties, which come with drinking, which come with drunk junk (eating foods you'd never eat sober). I'm going into my senior year of college, so I'm not going to set unrealistic goals for my alcohol intake. But, when it comes to drunk junk, here's my strategy to learn cold--
1. At a late night breakfast place order an egg white omelet or scramble. Low cal, high protein--might actually help get rid of that hangover.
2. At a CVS find a nonfat yogurt and fresh fruit salad or some sugar-free jellos. If it's savory that's on call, go for pretzel thins or popcorn. Low cals and nutrient packed options!
3. At a chinese place, order a side of steamed veggies or a soup dish that comes with lots of veggies and cellophane or rice noodles.
4. At a burrito place, get their vegetarian option in a bowl (no tortillas!) With no rice and extra veggies...or, if it's social eating, order nachos with someone drunker than you and let them eat most of it.

And that's it! stay tuned for a verdict of whether or not this actually gets anywhere!

Sunday, August 5, 2012


It's an interesting phenomenon when your parents suddenly realize that youve exceeded their tolerance level. Whether it's family vacation, a wedding, or even just an unevenly shared six pack...there's always a time of recognition that your child has either matched or exceeded your a) drunken-ness or b) tolerance (in which case, this realization comes when you drop out of the game and your offspring is still going strong). For me, this was tonight. After fixing a (classy) batch of Sutter Home sangria with a lovely grocery-quality Moscato (hand picked my mama) and produce-stand peaches and strawberries, we had ourselves a nice post-dinner pitcher to do work on. My mom, a self-proclaimed "teetotaler," and my dad, who suffers from sever Asian glow, each had a glass...leaving me to do the rest. Currently, I am nursing the final solo cup of my well-marinated sangria to the sweet chorus of mosquitos and the lady watering the hotel's flower beds while my parents are sleeping inside. I guess we'll call it a coming of age.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

"The City"

With a roommate from NYC and a bunch of friends working there this summer, I figured post-21 me should make a trip and really see what The City (as locals tend to call it) has to offer. Highlights of the trip include a birthday party at The Gin Mill--a pub atmosphere-ed place uptown that rented out a private room and open bar--a visit to the MOMA for some fine art gazing, brunch at Whym and Route 66--low key places where the company really makes the meal, and a famous frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3!

I think one of the smartest decision was trading off the experience of walking up, down, and all over Times Square for trying smaller venues for meals and more cultural entertainment experiences. The MOMA was definitely a high point, and I'm not the kind of person gets offended when a strange, "i just don't get it..." painting makes its way into a museum--so it was perfect! I was also surprised how many exhibits they had featuring activist art--from engineering to the global housing/energy crisis to socio-political issues spanning the globe. Here are some snapshots of my favorite pieces.