feed yourself – a word about diets and cleanses

I don’t believe in cleanses. I don’t think they’re necessary. There, I said it.

I believe that our bodies like to eat, want food, need fuel, crave calories. I don’t believe in not eating for periods of time.

Yes, I realize there are certain cleanses where you do eat. I’m not talking about those. I’m talking about the ones where you drink juice.

I don’t have any scientific evidence to support my disbelief in cleanses. Although the Mayo Clinic does say, “The digestive system and bowel naturally eliminate waste material and bacteria — your body doesn’t need enemas or special diets or pills to do this.”

That. I like that.

Just Mary’s Mary Rambin is on a cleanse right now. I know she’s done cleanses in the past and I’m sure she’ll do them again. I don’t know her personally, I only read her blog, but I remember her once explaining via her blog her reasons for doing a cleanse and they all seemed valid and justified.

To each her own and I know Mary knows what she’s doing when it comes to her body.

Me? I don’t believe in cleanses.

While we’re on the subject of dieting and restrictive eating, I read something very interesting this week on Happiness Awaits, my friend Fitzalan’s blog. (Fitzalan is a great name, right?) In her post entitled “Nourishment” she talks about getting her resting metabolic heart rate tested. Here’s what she learned:

“I actually need 2187 calories a day…my goal is to maintain my weight. I have been getting ~1400 calories a day. I have basically been starving my body and that is why I am always exhausted and want to go to bed at 8PM.”

My jaw hit the floor when I saw that. She has been inadvertently denying her body almost 800 calories a day! I’m so happy for her that she discovered this.

Naturally, now that she’s challenged with the goal of consuming MORE food, not less, she’s nervous, like many of us would be. She said, “Eating more in my head equals gaining weight, which is something I obviously do not want to do.” She’s consulting a nutritionist to find out the best way to go about it.

I don’t write about Fitzalan’s situation to wag a finger at her – she was doing what many of us do – striving to maintain her weight, to be able to have an indulgence every now and then and not have to pay for it later. She was doing what she thought was best for her body.

But she was unknowingly starving herself to avoid gaining weight. I think her story is important.

Ladies, let us not go crazy with the rules and restrictions and 2, 3, or 5 pounds. In fact, I’m going to lighten up on myself about by my own goal to lose 10 pounds.

UGH. WHO CARES!

(Let’s be honest, I’m still trying to lose 10 pounds.)

My point is, crash diets and cleanses and not eating and not eating enough and over-exercising and stressing the fuck (yeah, I said it!) out about it all has got to stop. It’s good to be mindful about your health and weight, but Love First.

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okay, okay – my weight loss tips!

A few days ago, I wrote a post called “i’ve gained 10 pounds” in which I promised this blog wouldn’t be turning into a weight loss blog. And it won’t be! But I have gotten a few requests for my weight loss tips, so I’m happy to share them.

First, I want to say that I read this fabulous blog called Ramshackle Glam and I love what Jordan Reid had to say a few days ago about her relationship to her weight, and more specifically, about the Blueprint Cleanse.

This cleanse, which is basically a juice fast, has become popular in NYC recently thanks, in part, to people like Julia Allison and the girls at Non-Society. (If you don’t know what or whom I’m talking about, let’s keep it that way – you don’t want to know.) My friends and Faryn, Marina and Chloe recently did the Blueprint Cleanse themselves. I haven’t yet spoken to any of them directly about their experience, but I think it went just fine.

That said, Jordan Reid didn’t have quite the same experience. Everyone’s different! (If you want to read Jordan’s review of the cleanse and her thoughts about dieting, here’s the post.)

I bring up Jordan because I appreciate her perspective on healthy living and her weight, which is – mostly – that she doesn’t give it much thought. True, the girl is naturally thin and many of us aren’t. Many of us have to pay close attention to what we eat to avoid gaining weight. But something I want to say before I list my weight loss tips is this:

If you live your life in a perpetual state of trying to lose weight, or obsessing about, talking about and worrying about your weight, there might be something else going – something bigger than your concerns about your body.

I am not a psychologist and I’m not a nutrition expert, and I do believe in eating healthy, fresh, naturally lower-calorie stuff whenever possible.

I also think that obsessing about our bodies and our weight is crazy and ultimately ineffective. Just so you know.

So now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, if you want to safely and responsibly shed weight for the right reasons….

Here are my 5 Tips for Lasting Weight Loss!

1. Be realistic. Be realistic about how much weight you need to lose. Ultimately, you want to maintain a healthy, average weight. If you have a desire to be thinner than that, you need to look at what’s really going on because it’s probably not about your body, it’s about something else.

2. Be patient and stay committed. Whether you have 100+ pounds to lose, or if you’d only like to shed a few, losing weight takes time. It’s done by making lasting, simple changes to your diet and your lifestyle. It can be fun, but it can also feel challenging, so be patient with yourself. You are human, you will make mistakes, expect to fail sometimes – if you want weight loss to last, be loving with yourself, practice making changes every day and stay committed no matter what. This is not about willpower, it’s about commitment.

3. Be simple. Make simple changes. Eat less. Eat more greens. Eat more protein and whole grain. Take walks. Sleep more regularly. Do some yoga. These are all simple adjustments. Don’t go crazy overhauling your whole life in a weekend because it’s not likely to last and you will feel badly when it doesn’t. Pick a starting point that feels comfortable and thoughtfully make changes in that area of your life. More changes will follow. Then revisit #2.

4. Be smart. So, you have to eat a little bit less if you want to see the scale move. Period. That’s just the math of it. Exercise is important, but exercise is really more about your health – your heart, your mind, your bones – than it is about weight loss. In fact, if you never exercised, you could still lose weight by changing what you eat. I don’t recommend doing that, most people wouldn’t, because exercise is good for you. But what you eat and how much is the more important piece of weight loss. If the scale didn’t go down over the course of a month (a month, not a week, see #2), you need to be honest with yourself about what you’ve been eating and then eat a little less. Period. There are no quick fixes.

5. Be indulgent. Not all the time, no. That’s what got you into this mess. Be indulgent when it matters to you. Go out to dinner and enjoy yourself. Have a few drinks with friends at a special event. Enjoy a slice of cake on the rare occasion that one might present itself. Don’t buy cake at the store, keep it in your freezer, and eat it by yourself, but do not miss out on life because of your weight loss – trust me, that will backfire. Weight loss is not prison and dessert IS allowed. Giving into temptation sometimes, and indulging on occasion can make watching what you eat so much easier.

I think that’s it. I could share dozens of other tricks, tidbits and advise, but the bottom line is that we all KNOW HOW to lose weight! Eat less, move more.

Losing weight isn’t so much about what you do, as it is about what you think and feel. You’ve got to believe in yourself, in your ability to succeed, and you have to keep practicing the habits necessary (you know what they are) to achieve results, even if it takes 2 years. There are no quick fixes, there aren’t any shakes or powders that will solve this issue for you.

My overall thesis statement advice is this:  Think about why you might be overeating. Then be loving with yourself while you practice eating a little bit less. Do it every day and see where you end up!

i’ve gained 10 pounds!

Quitting my job, still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, has had one less than desirable impact on my life: I’ve gained ten pounds.

Before I write more on that, I want to say this: I happen to think that obsessing about a few pounds gained or lost is not a healthy place for women to spend their energy. I don’t believe in weighing myself every day, in “starting over” every other week on some new diet or plan to finally get to a goal weight I’ve never been able to attain. I don’t believe in skinny jeans or depriving myself of any type of food.

I believe my body is perfect no matter what size it is, that I look great when I want to look great, not when I weigh some “dream” number. I also believe that I exercise to be healthy and sane, not to drop pounds, that I eat well to keep my body functioning properly, not to stay above the yellow line (Biggest Loser reference).

It has, however, taken me years to get to this place of unconditional love and acceptance about my body and my weight. Since I decided to live this philosophy, it has helped me immeasurably in my personal life, my professional life, with my relationship – in every way. Self Love: The Brain’s Wonder Drug.

ANYWAY, I’ve gained 10 pounds. And I’m hoping to lose them because I don’t feel comfortable with them on my frame. I feel sluggish, I’ve noticed my level of fitness has diminished, I’ve noticed I’m reaching for unhealthy foods more often, I don’t feel like I fit comfortably into last summer’s clothes. And I know I can do something about that.

When I began to exercise regularly at the beginning of my weight loss journey at age 21, I did not stop doing so for eight years, more or less. I think I could count on two hands the number of weeks during that time that I didn’t work out and I’ve practiced every kind of imaginable routine. I believe exercise is fundamental for health, well-being, and if you’re trying to lose weight, it keeps your mindset in check.

So before I left my desk job, I used to daydream about the day when I’d be free to make my own schedule – I was certain it would, in part, include hours of exercise.

The exact opposite happened. I wanted to do other things instead. For the first time in almost a decade, working out took a backseat. Sure, I still exercised like I always have. But I skipped days more often, took it easy, did what I wanted to when I felt up to it. Frankly, that’s the kind of exercise routine I’d like to have for the rest of my life – a relaxed one. But in order to accommodate that without gaining weight, I would’ve needed to change my diet, and I hadn’t.

I kept eating the same things I’d been eating even though my exercise level went down. Plus, I went out with friends more, Kev and I had impromptu date nights more often. Again, that’s what I want for my life. But in order to have that, one has to make sure things are balancing out if one doesn’t want to gain weight.

So in almost 8 months of being self-employed, I’ve gained 8-10 pounds. About a pound a month of fun, relaxation and being gentle with myself. I will lose it again. But I kinda like that gained it. Does that sound weird?

It feels like I told myself it was okay to loosen the reigns a little bit, something I hadn’t done in a long time in terms of my weight. I told myself, it’s okay to live it up, eat pizza and tacos when you want to, and finally bask in this freedom that you’ve desired for so long. Now, I don’t need to bask in freedom with food and couch-time, not forever anyway. But for a little while is a-okay with me. The last time I battled a ten-pound weight gain was the year I started dating Kevin. And I didn’t truly mind gaining it then either. I enjoyed our first blissful year as a couple, dinners and drinks and all the rest, and I lost the weight the following year.

I also like it because I can always use extra practice accepting myself exactly as I am. When you are morbidly obese, you do not like yourself. I’m sure you could find people who’re exceptions to that rule, but I was not one of them. As I lost weight, I began to love myself. But I couldn’t help thinking, “Why couldn’t I offer myself this kind of respect and acceptance when I was heavy?”

This will be my third experience over the years of  “Yikes, I gained 10 pounds back” since I lost the 115. But I always lose it again, and it also always helps me practice loving myself all the time, no matter what I weigh.

So if you see me, yes those are new jeans! Because the old ones felt too snug!

I was surprised at how wobbly I was upon re-entering the weight loss game last week. I haven’t been actively trying to lose weight for a few years, so it was strange at first. But soon I felt comfortable with my old methods, habits and tricks – and here we are!

In my world, trying to lose weight doesn’t mean much other than being committed to an exercise schedule, writing down what I eat, and actually saying no to certain tempting foods, instead of “Okay, why not?” If I enjoy anything, (I mean anything besides nachos, brownies, cookies, and pizza) I genuinely enjoy the process of losing weight. I know that sounds bizarre, but I lived as someone who was actively losing weight for years and years. I’m good at it, it gives me something to do, and it can even be fun – at least in my experience.

So that’s the update. I thought you might like to know that being your own boss and working from home, although wonderful, isn’t perfect. Unexpected pitfalls do arise. This one’s mine. Frankly, it was a shock for me that this happened, but now that I recognize how my patterns have shifted, and now that I’ve decided I want to comfortably wear the shorts I bought last summer, I’m re-balancing.

Oh also, I turn 30 in ALMOST SIX MONTHS. (MOM!) So that motivation doesn’t hurt.

whole wheat banana pancakes

I made Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes, y’all! Late last week, I woke up, didn’t want eggs, or toast, or a smoothie. I wanted pancakes. I’d gotten whole wheat flour a month prior, just for such an occasion.

I googled and found this quick, easy recipe. It doesn’t use sugar, which was the main thing I was looking for.

I served them with butter and organic maple syrup. They were so scrumptious and I loved every bite of them. I wish I could have eaten one hundred. Instead, I ate about six (hundred).

odds and ends

I’m tired and achy and ready for bed. So here are just a few things I can’t bring myself to piece into paragraphs:

  • I enjoy going to the post office, specifically the huge on 8th Avenue that’s open until late at night.
  • My baking and kitchen skills are constantly improving.
  • I hung out with my friend Geoff’s four-year-old today. Otto and I went to the park and had hot chocolate. He has the sweetest little face and is a delight to be around. Oh and traversing Manhattan with a kid is a totally different scenario than traversing it without one.
  • I ordered a few DVDs off Netflix. I’ll let you know how that goes.
  • Sometimes I’m incredibly overwhelmed at the prospect of growing the bakery. Fanny & Jane is doing well, we’re having fun, but every once in a while, I’m terrified. Meep!
  • I’m daydreaming about a beach vacation.
  • Tomorrow morning Kevin and I are having a meeting at a coffee shop over our laptops. Fun!
  • I’ve been drinking spinach, banana, flax seed and vanilla soy milk shakes each morning. They’re delicious.
  • I’ve taken a yoga class every other day since January 1. I’m proud of this accomplishment.
  • I’ve been trying hard to eat better since returning from vacation. Sometimes I trip up because of cookies.
  • I have been craving movie-watching lately. Have I mentioned?
  • Our little girl cat, Kaia, came out into the living room while someone new was at the house tonight. First time for everything.
  • I’m excited to be able to go for jogs and long walks outside once the weather warms up. Today is was light at 5pm! That’s a start! And it’s supposed to be in the 40s later this week. There’s hope for us yet.
  • It dawned on me the other day that I’m living the dream I set out to achieve when I started this blog. Nothing’s perfect, and I couldn’t have expected this exact lifestyle, but I’m here. And here is pretty good.

my interview with kath younger

The story of a young woman who quit her job and ended up somewhere she never expected.

In 2007, Kath Younger took a leap of faith from an unfulfilling desk job to pursue something that made her happier. She decided to go back to school to study nutrition. But she had to find the money to make it happen somehow. And even more intimidating was that she had to “start all over,” as she described it, by taking required courses that she dreaded, and attending classes with brand new freshman who were in much different places in their lives than she was.

But she did it. She quit her job, enrolled in school, and started down a new path. And then she found something completely unexpected and incredibly rewarding along the way. She found something that she didn’t set out to achieve, something that has not only changed her experience of returning to school, and has supported her financially while she studies, but something that has also changed how she views her potential career as a dietitian and nutrition expert. Kath Younger, who quit a job she disliked in search of something greater, has become a nationally renowned food blogger and freelance writer.

The first photo I ever saw on Kath’s blog was of a bowl of oatmeal. I remember it well – it was a creamy cup of luscious looking oats topped with blueberries, granola and – is that peanut butter? This girl is after my own heart, I thought, remembering the sideways glance my boyfriend had given me that very morning while I ate a tablespoon of chunky organic PB right out of its jar.

It’s fitting that my introduction to Kath’s website would include a bowl of her classic multi-topping oatmeal because she is, after all, The Oatmeal Queen of the Blogosphere. (That’s not an official title.)

Breakfast-creator and blogger credentials aside, Kath is a young woman who lives in Charlotte, NC, attends Winthrop University in pursuit of becoming Registered Dietitian and achieving a masters degree in human nutrition, and lives with her husband, Matt, who is a baker and a beer-maker. (He writes about his love for making bread and beer on his blog Brew and Bake.)

You don’t need to spend much time on her site, Kath Eats Real Food, to understand what she does. (Although, once you’re there, you won’t want to leave!) Kath blogs about every single thing she eats. From a bite of a banana before a morning run, to an incredible looking Christmas dinner with her beautiful family, to the wine and cheese picnic she and her adorable husband laid out for their friends during an outdoor summer concert. She takes photos and writes a bit about each meal that passes her lips.

I discovered Kath’s blog through a “weight-loss friend.” Having lost 115 pounds during my early twenties, I’d gathered a group of online girlfriends, women I didn’t know in real life, and wouldn’t have otherwise known if we hadn’t all had one thing in common: We’d all once been heavy, were in the middle of our journeys to lose the weight, and we’d chosen to share our daily struggles with each other on the internet. My online friendships with these women were a huge source of strength and support for me as journeyed through my weight loss.

So I was always interested in finding inspirational personal websites about healthy living, exercise or eating naturally and organically. But until one of my internet weight loss friends linked to Kath Eats Real Food, I had no idea an online space existed that combined all of those elements into one beautiful photo and lifestyle blog. The moment I happened upon Kath’s site, I was hooked.

Her blog is a fascinating glimpse into the life of a health-conscious woman who strives to eat natural, organic, “real” food, and who enjoys exercise, nutrition, cooking and married life with a partner who’s very talented in the kitchen himself. It’s also inspiring to see a fit woman who occasionally allows herself pizza, beer, wine, sweet treats and plenty of other mindful, wisely chosen indulgences along the way. Her philosophies on eating a balanced diet and maintaining a balanced life are an inspiration to thousands of people who have concerns about their weight, or even people without weight struggles who enjoy eating real food and living healthy lifestyles.

And to think – this history major from Davidson College who began her career in publishing and public relations ended up becoming one of the web’s most popular food and fitness bloggers, all because she decided to quit her boring desk job!

So of course, I had to get in touch with her and ask her a few questions  about her experience as someone who has not only survived quitting her desk job, but someone who has found great success by doing so.

I began by asking Kath if she was always interested in nutrition and she said she grew up eating healthy foods and exercising, having always been athletic.  But she chose a history major in college, “because it was open ended,” she said. “I used to hate history, I ended up in it by default.  I should have picked science, but I didn’t want to be in labs for twenty hours a week.”

“If I had gone to a school with a nutrition major as an option, maybe I would have picked that,” she added. “I was always interested in it. But I also never knew there were jobs in nutrition. It never crossed my mind.”

She went on to explain that once she graduated with her history degree, she’d planned to get into the public relations field. She thought that such a career would afford her opportunities to plan fun events and maybe even take interesting trips. “But I couldn’t get a job in PR right away,” she said. So she ended up finding a publishing job, a job that she didn’t really like. Eventually, though, she used that job as a stepping stone into a public relations role. Finally, this was what she’d wanted.

But the PR job left a lot to be desired too. It certainly wasn’t what she’d expected. “If I’d ended up at a cool PR firm with local clients I probably would not have left my job,” she confessed. But that wasn’t the case. She described feeling isolated when working at the PR firm. “It’s a good company,” she explained, “but I was unfulfilled, bored, and had little work to do…I was able to do some cool stuff a few times, but that was, like, one weekend over the entire year.”

Totally disenchanted with her situation, she felt stuck. “I didn’t want to be trapped in an office building,” she said. “I’d go out for a doctor’s appointment during the work day and stop by Starbucks and I’d see these people who were living life during the work week. And I said to myself, ‘What do these people do for a career?’ I always assumed they were bartenders or waiters and that they worked until late at night and hung out at the coffee shop during the day.”

“Then,” she went on, “I started reading the ‘Eat Like Me’ blog.” Eat Like Me is a blog written by a woman named Cristin who also writes about diet, exercise and her daily meals. Kath says it dawned on her that the people she saw at Starbucks on their laptops at 10am weren’t necessarily night-shift employees, but that they were also probably people like Cristin. “It opened my eyes to switching careers.”

Kath started to do some research about becoming a nutritionist. “I looked into the different certifications, but I had some people on the internet tell me, rather rudely actually, that I had no business telling people about nutrition if I only had a certification. Then I thought about being a personal trainer. I got all the materials for the fitness certification. And then I realized I wasn’t into muscles.” So she started to consider getting a more in-depth degree as a Registered Dietitian. “Over a month long period I figured out that it was going to take two and a half years to get my RD and I thought, ‘I can’t do this.'” Her distaste for science lab courses was on her mind, plus she’d already been through four years of undergrad. “But then I realized, I would rather be in Chemistry class than at the office. Anything but the office.”

According to Kath, her goals at the time were simple. She wanted to leave a job that she didn’t enjoy, be her own boss, and have a flexible lifestyle. When I asked her if she was scared that she’d be broke or that making ends meet while she going back to school would be tough, she said, “I knew this was bigger than the money.”

Isn’t everything?

During her days as an office employee, long before she went back to school to study nutrition, Kath first began blogging about her meals in a private web community on a site called Calorie King. Other users followed her posts about her own personal mission to lose the weight she’d put on during college, which Kath says was due to an unfocused diet and a foot surgery that caused her natural athleticism to take a back seat.

(You can read more about Kath’s weight loss journey on this page of her blog.)

A year and a half later, her friends and family encouraged her to start a public photo blog of her meals and recipes, and she did. As the months passed, and she began her nutrition courses, her new blog began to gather more and more readers. She was getting a lot of well-deserved, positive feedback. “I was really excited!” she said happily. As her readership grew, it was only a matter of time before she started making money from her hobby.

The popularity of Kath Eats Real Food continued to expand as foodies, bloggers and healthy-living fans across the internet caught wind of the blog, linked to her site, and passed her posts around to their friends and families. Eventually, Kath’s blog became one of the most well-known healthy food blogs on the internet. She writes on an “about” page on her site, “Starting with only five loyal readers, I am shocked and excited by the success of the blog today!”

Her daily stories about inventive oatmeal breakfasts, invigorating workouts, impressive study and homework schedules, well-balanced dinners and even her fear of bugs, her dislike for onions, her husband’s beer-making efforts, and her travels to visit family, friends or attend events as a blogger are all devoured by her readers, many of whom comment enthusiastically after each of her posts. She writes honestly and warmly, and one feels as if they know her after only a short time spent reading about her life. Besides getting to connect with so many different people on a topic she’s passionate about, what’s additionally rewarding for her is that she has been able to parlay this fun activity into an income stream, which has helped her to stay focused on nutrition and healthy living while she finishes up her degrees. “If I didn’t have the blog, I’d have to work weekends babysitting, or work a restaurant job,” she said, when explaining how grateful she is to have an income from her blog.

In fact, not only has Kath’s unexpected success as a blogger been a big help to her financially and an enjoyable and fulfilling part-time (sometimes full-time!) job, it’s also done something even more important for her: It’s changed the way she views her career as a dietitian.

“When I originally started nutrition school, I wanted to have a private practice. Now, with blogging and the freelance opportunities I’ve gotten through the blog, I still want to do nutrition counseling, but I see it as more of a secondary side business to being a professional blogger and a freelance writer. I’m definitely going be more involved in media than I ever thought.”

I asked Kath how it’s been for her to become ‘famous’ for her blog, if there are positives and negatives to being well-known online. “It’s been a pleasant, unexpected blessing. I didn’t set out to do this,” she said. “Sure, sometimes the grass is greener. Sometimes I wish I had a job that ended at 5pm. But I still wouldn’t trade it for a desk job.”

And then I asked her the question I like to ask almost everyone I talk to about career paths: If money was no object, but you still had to be productive for eight hours a day, how would you spend your time?

“Honestly, I would blog. It’s so much fun. I go through my entire life thinking ‘How can I write about this?’ Even when things are going badly I think, ‘This is gonna make a great blog post.’ If someone gave me 100 million dollars, I would still blog. Actually, I would go shopping, then blog,” she added, laughing.

It seems that Kath Younger, who set out to work in one field, and then took a risk by quitting her job to seek a career in another field, has ended up exactly where she should be. She’s doing something she loves, something she’d do even in her free time, something that fulfills her, and the money has, as they say, followed. Even though she could never have imagined she’d end up exactly here, she’s obviously glad that she did. And it’s all because she refused to be tied down to a life that didn’t make her happy.

She accredits much of her success to her supportive husband and family – her mom, dad, sister and her grandparents. When she told her parents that she wanted to quit her job, they weren’t critical of her choice. “My parents did not say, ‘Your first education was a waste of time now,’ or anything like that. They supported my decision.” And now that she’s become a famous blogger? “My mom is my biggest blog fan,” she tells me. “She reads every single comment. Sometimes she’ll email me before I’ve even had a chance to read them and say ‘Oh I really think you should respond to Jen because she was so nice!’ My mom’s a writer too and now she always says, ‘My daughter the writer.’ She’s so pleased with me.”

I asked Kath to share some advice for anyone who might be considering quitting their job to pursue something more fulfilling. “The big hurdle is the financial part,” she says. “But your happiness is more important than the material things you’d buy with that paycheck. If you want the change bad enough, your paycheck won’t matter. We’ve had to readjust our lifestyle (to afford this change), but it’s been totally worth it.”

When I hung up the phone with Kath, I was smiling. We’d had a nice chat about her story, and she’d even graciously asked me about my own plans, goals, and ambitions too. She was very encouraging and I left our conversation feeling inspired. Kath is not someone who has it all figured out, but she has made smart, strong choices along the way, and she’s now being rewarded for the risk she took in ways she never dreamed. And if that isn’t a lesson to all of us that we ought to seek out the potential that awaits us, I don’t know what is.

Thank you, Kath, for your inspiring story, and for sharing your life with all of us, every single day. And thank you, also, for your brilliant oatmeal recipes.

You might also like these related posts:

i quit my job today

life is too short to skip dessert

10 ways to save for a desk job escape

the envelope method check-in

13 things i’ve learned so far on my journey to follow my bliss

daily dessert

Dessert yesterday was this darling little mini brownie from Pret A Manger, along with an afternoon cup of coffee.

I don’t generally drink coffee in the afternoon anymore, but since I’m back up at the reception desk, and since these last few weeks at the desk job are absolutely snail-ing by, and since I want to bang my head into a wall more than ever before at having to sit here day in and out, answering the phone and staring at a wall, I’ve been getting afternoon coffees to keep me from falling asleep or strangling an innocent delivery person.

The brownie was very yummy, and is handmade with all-natural ingredients and that makes me feel good about the world. And the coffee was organic. Yay, world.

I do, however, have some upsetting news relating to Pret A Manger, which is one of my favorite places to grab healthy, fresh lunch in New York. Or it was – until something unfortunate happened.

You know how I love their harvest cookie? And how I’m always raving about how yummy they are and how I’ve told you before that they’re only 180 calories? Well GUESS WHAT. Pret must have updated their calorie info because I walked in there yesterday to find that the harvest cookie is now listed as having 350 calories! And all this time I’ve been thinking I’m getting away with a 180 calorie cookie! Unreal.

Needless to say, I was pissed. I guess the benefit of having calories listed on some menus in New York City isn’t always, uh…beneficial.

I knew it was too good to be true. That damn harvest cookie is like a small meal. And now I know why. I should have trusted my instincts. This happened once before with the margaritas at Chipotle. They went from being listed as having 90 calories to suddenly boasting 210. GAH! Get your facts straight people!

daily dessert

Picture 696

Despite appearances, this is not lunar terrain. This is the flourless, butterless, gluten free dark chocolate cookie I had for dessert yesterday.

I was wandering around on my lunch break trying to find something sweet and I stopped into my old haunt, Dishes, to see what they had to offer me. I had a terrible time making a decision because, although it all looked good, nothing screamed out at me.

I finally decided on the dark chocolate everything-less cookie. I have no idea why, to be honest. It seemed like a slightly more nutritious choice than the straight-up regular cookie, plus it had nuts in it, which I thought could work. And I asked the woman behind the counter if it was good and she said it was “Amazing.” Hmph. I’ll be the judge of that.

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When I took the first bite, I was disappointed. Where’s the flour and the butter? I thought. And the gluten? Where’s the gluten? This tastes like chocolate cardboard.

But then I took another bite and another and the damn thing started to really grow on me. It was chewy, really really chewy, but I sort of liked that about it. And it tasted almost denser than a real cookie in some respects. I thought, Okay, so if there’s no flour or butter, what is there? There’s sugar, nuts, certainly a lot of dark chocolate, vanilla, maybe an egg? It didn’t say eggless. Not bad, Dishes.

I ate it over the course of an hour, a little bite here, a little bit there, along with a cup of half decaf / half regular coffee with milk. And it was really quite tasty. It was chocolatey, a little salty, filling, and did I mention chewy? I’d definitely get it again.

But I’m not becoming a vegan or anything, don’t worry.

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daily dessert

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Dessert last night was a couple mini hazelnut chocolate biscotti pieces from Trader Joe’s, and a glass of vanilla soy milk, which I enjoyed while I did some work before bed.

This was a very yummy, satisfying, simple and low-calorie dessert. These little biscottis from TJ’s really hit the spot for me because they’re small enough that I don’t feel like I’m going dessert-crazy (three for 140 calories), but chocolatey enough that I’m getting my fix.

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I finished my dessert, got some more work done, and went to bed. It was a nice, albeit late, evening.

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a pleasant surprise

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Yesterday was an odd day. There’s no particular reason why, but I knew I needed to go home after work and relax in some peace and quiet. I was feeling pouty and whiny and misunderstood. And my couch loves when I wear that mood. I emailed my improv teammates and did something I hardly ever do – I skipped a show. It was the right decision.

When I got home, I was surprised to find Kevin still sitting at his desk working away furiously. It turned out that he’d had some major drama occur with his job (He was laid off a month ago but he still works for the same company, just now from home, and on commission.) and he’d missed his improv show too! He was pretty upset about this, but once he was able to set his work stuff aside, we were both pleasantly surprised to find ourselves home together on a Wednesday night with nothing whatsoever to do. This is rare.

We did some yoga together. (Weirdos.) And then I suggested we use our newly acquired bounty of groceries to make a Mexican feast. I even had a recipe for low-calorie margaritas, and we had some little bottles of Patron Silver to use up. Perfect. I love Mexican food (like, it’s a serious addiction – I eat it at least 5 times a week), I love margaritas, and I love Kevin.

He handled the drinks while I made the meal. And when he was done mixing up all the ingredients, he adorably took (many) photos of his accomplishment. That first photo is his handy work. Truthfully, they were very yummy and tasted a lot like real margaritas. I wish the recipe hadn’t used Crystal Light, because I’m not a big fan of the stuff, but it was fine. We avoided the sugary soda that the recipe called for by using seltzer and an all-natural limeade. The drinks were such a fun addition to our dinner. (If you ever want to make them, just Google “Skinny Margaritas” or “low-calorie margaritas.” There are a lot of options, so you’ll have your pick of ingredients that you can substitute for the higher calorie stuff.)

Warning: Vegetarians beware – there’s a close-up of chicken coming up!

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I made chicken taco salad for dinner. Lots of sauteed and raw veggies, spinach, romaine, sauteed chipotle chicken, Cuban black beans, sour cream, cheese, and multigrain tortilla chips. It was so yummy and so quick and easy to make.

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I did a huge grocery shop on Tuesday night. It was actually a very relaxing excursion. I clearned my schedule, went to the quieter Trader Joe’s (the one in Brooklyn), promised myself I’d take my time, and with each yummy item I put into the cart I felt like I was saving us money and making us healthier. It’s so great to come home to my kitchen now stocked with healthy foods. And I’m saving a bundle by not buying food during the work day, which is great news for the envelope method. (It’s going well, by the way! I’m right on track with my spending! YES!)

Kev and I both gobbled up our salads in the blink of an eye. As we kicked back after dinner and finished sipping on our margaritas, we high-fived to celebrate the unexpected treat of getting to spend a quiet weeknight alone together eating Mexican food.