Happy Belated Birthday!

I learned my lesson in regards to neglecting the blog…go away for a couple of days, and miss its first birthday, which was apparently February 25. Oops! To be fair, I did say in the first post that I am not very good at keeping up with blogs.

I thought in honor of the blog’s first birthday, I’d share some interesting and/or amusing stats with you as well as reflect a bit on how I have changed over the last year.

Some stats:

  • Total views: 12,134
  • Top day for views: June 18, 2013 with 2,217 views (linked from runsforcookies.com Motivational Monday post)
  • Top 5 countries for views: USA, Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, and the UK
  • Most viewed post: Race Report: Double Creek Half Marathon with 1,268 views

Some noteworthy searches that brought people here:

  • “homemade running fuel” is the top thing that brings people beyond the blog’s actual name, which I find interesting because I’ve only talked about possibly using it, not made my own or anything.
  • Runners up: “tempo run 2” and “I ran a half marathon now what.” The second one makes sense; the first one would make sense, but why the “2,” and why have more people searched for “tempo run 2” than “tempo run” and found this blog
  • Strangest searches that have led to this blog: “there were two girls want to shovel our driveway but i am hesitant to let them” and “sheetz belles cocker spaniel,”
  •  Favorite bad grammar search: “why arnt there no pigs at pa farm show 2014”

Looking back at my early posts to reflect was interesting. It seems like last year at this time I was struggling with some of the same things, like working out despite the weather. I was also doing better at certain things, like planning ahead for days where I might overeat during the week.

I would like to note that I have changed a lot in terms of fitness and maintenance in the last year. I think I weigh about 5 lbs more, but I am way stronger and have made other huge fitness accomplishments, like finishing 2 half marathons. I’ve also faced some major fears – last year I was scared to run my first 5K and I was terrified of treadmills. – but now I’ve run several races and I wish I had a treadmill or a gym membership so that I didn’t have to go out in the cold!

I’ll end with an update on Misty the cat: she went to the vet yesterday and received a clean bill of health! She traveled well in the car, but did not like it very much when either the vet or I touched her tummy and scratched us both. Hopefully I did not have the most embarrassing animal of the day yesterday!

Misty accepting her fate now that she is in the carrier.

Oh, and fun story about the carrier: I forgot to buy one when I was at Walmart (or they possibly didn’t have one?) so I was running around everywhere trying to find one. I couldn’t find one at any of the stores I went to, so I finally relented and went to PetSmartCo (not sure which one) like 10 minutes before they closed. I luckily found a pretty nice one on clearance…but then their computer system crashed. I felt super bad because I had to keep everyone like 10 minutes after close to buy the damn thing. Then, the second I offered to buy a temporary cardboard one and leave them cash for it (I only had like $9 on me) the system came back up! At least I got a lot of compliments on how nice her carrier was at the vet.

Send Misty good vibes! She is sore and lethargic from all of the vaccines and has been laying in this spot since like 6 pm last night 😦 Don’t worry TOO much, though, she has been becoming more active (read: has shifted on the blanket and eaten) this afternoon.


Bit of a short post today. I’ve been very busy this week! I was only supposed to work today and Tuesday, but I was called in to work for 2 hours on Wednesday and 7 on Thursday. Our weeks at work start on Tuesday, so my only day off this week is tomorrow, which should be quite busy as well – grocery shopping, 3 mile run, dropping Kris off to play Warhammer at some point, and then going to a reunion party with the awesome people that I interned with 4 years ago when I moved here. I have lots of good news, though:

  • Our Roku arrived! It cost more than an Xbox live subscription (we opted for the Roku 3 so that we could wire it in to the internet), but in the long run should keep us from having to pay that subscription again and again. We successfully watched 2 episodes of House of Cards on it. That show is just TOO intense.
  • Our cell phones arrived, too! Wow, now it sounds like we are big spenders. It just happened that both our cell phone contracts and our Xbox live expired in the same month. We have been planning these purchases for a long time and we will actually save quite a bit of money in the long run. Plus, these are used Nexus 4’s off Ebay, not like, brand new whatever phone is fancy now.
  • I got a hair cut! I always neglect this but I want to make sure I am looking nice and neat in case I ever get any more job interviews. Plus it always makes me feel nice 🙂
  • Belle and the cat, who shall be dubbed “Misty” unless the vet reveals that her fur was in fact thick enough to conceal her manliness, are doing much better together than we anticipated they would.  Kris let her in during the middle of the night last night and Belle did not fuss about her sleeping on the bed. I went out and bought all of the necessary cat stuffs today, so I guess she is ours now. Fun story: it took me 10 minutes to check out at Walmart because the lady did not want to use my coupon that applied to 20lbs or more of Tidy Cat cat litter for a 35 lb container of it. I apologized to the other people in my line.

Look how well we are all doing 🙂

Now, on to the food!

I didn’t make anything new this week, so I thought this might be a good time to do my Clif vs. Luna vs. Luna Protein vs. Larabar comparison. I touched on some of this in a previous post, but I’ll provide a fuller version here.

I have always been a pretty religious adherent to Clif bars, but mostly because I heard of them first, did not think they were gross when I tried them, and then only tried gross things like Quest bars.

I happened to try the Larabar Alt bars once when I had a coupon for them, and found that I enjoyed these quite a lot as well. I then basically bought combinations of my favorite flavors of those and Clif bars based on price.

I had been completely avoiding Luna bars because I felt that it was silly to have a protein/granola bar “for” women. When I was picking out bars at my local grocery store, though, I decided to give their “Luna Protein” line a try because they were much lower in calories than Clif bars with a similar amount of protein. I then noticed, though, that the regular Luna bars had a decent amount of protein, so I grabbed one as well, just to compare. My comparisons are based off of eating these different bars in the middle of long shifts (we don’t get breaks).

The verdict: I have now tried all of these kinds of bars, with the exception of the regular version of Larabars, and the only one I am not a fan of is the Luna Protein bar. First of all, it looks like this:

It bothers me that it is trying to look like a chocolate bar instead of something that is pretending to be healthier than a chocolate bar. Also, the appearance is misleading, it is nothing like a candy bar.

I also did not like the taste of the Luna Protein bars. I had chocolate peanut butter and cookie dough flavors and did not think either one resembled its namesake. Furthermore, the texture was off – I feel like these had a similar texture to Quest bars, which are extremely grainy. Perhaps I am the only person with these texture issues, but it was a huge turn off for me. Finally, I did not see much nutritional benefit to eating these fairly gross bars over the others – I think they only had 1-2 extra grams of protein. I know other things matter, but I primarily eat these bars as large snack/small meal substitutes when I lack access to normal meals for hours at a time, so I am looking for something that is filling rather than something that provides empty calories, which typically means something quite high in protein and/or fat. Despite the high protein, I actually did not feel very full from these at all, perhaps because I did not find them satisfying to eat.

The verdict: I will probably keep Clif and Larabar Alt in my rotation (especially the peanut butter cookie Larabars…I swear they are just mushed up coookies), but I will be giving Luna more of a chance. I found that some of the Luna flavors, like white chocolate macadamia nut, are actually tastier and more aesthetically pleasing than the Clif version, plus they seem to have more nutritional bang for the buck (less calories, core 4 vitamins, and about the same amount of protein). There are also some unique flavors! I’ve had lemon and peanut honey pretzel now, and there is a box of “nuts over chocolate” downstairs that I picked up on sale at Target to work my way through. My personal opinion is that it is silly for them to market them as a women’s bar, though – why not just make all Clif bars more like this? I will never understand!

Long Weekend, Long Run

Kris and I had quite the interesting and eventful long weekend!


On Saturday, we woke up to….more snow! Apparently 10 inches on Thursday wasn’t enough.

I was supposed to work noon – 8ish but I ended up working more of a 3-7 shift because we were so slow that they had me come in late. This gave me time to join Kris and Belle for a walk, which was fun because Belle LOVES fresh snow, apparently. On a typical cold day, Belle barely wants to go outside; with the fresh snow lately, she has been SUPER excited to go for walks and jump around in the snow, even if it is too deep for her properly walk through.

I also ordered a Roku 3 on Saturday morning! For the last several years, we have been using our Xbox live subscription to watch Netflix on our TV. Kris hardly does any console gaming anymore, though, (he has converted to mostly PC) so the subscription seemed like a waste of money. Technically, a Roku 3 costs more than one year of Xbox live, but the goal is for the thing to last more than one year. Our only hang up: it is supposed to arrive on Friday, and our last day of Xbox live is tomorrow! I am hoping the box arrives early so we don’t have to huddle around the laptop to watch House of Cards.


Sunday was the day of my long run. I was DREADING going for this run… 5 miles on the potentially icy sidewalks?! I knew I had to do it, though – I haven’t run that far in nearly 2 months, and in a few weeks I need to run twice that distance! The run went better than I had anticipated, with only a few random blocks that had not been shoveled. I will say that after my 5 mile run yesterday and 3 mile run today on those uneven surfaces with varying degrees of traction I am quite sore.

This was the worst – completely snow covered for an entire block. Fun fact: my GPS thinks this is a 300 foot elevation change, for some reason.

When I got home from work, which was fortunately not cut in half (remember, I am a server, so a short shift on a Saturday + slow business from the bad weather meant a HUGE cut in wages for the week), Kris and I tried letting the “stray” kitty that has been coming around. We noticed she was friendly and started regularly leaving food out for her about 3 weeks ago. Our landlord recently told us that she was abandoned by some neighbors that moved out which helped us to understand why a “stray” was so friendly and dependent on people for food. She is so friendly that we were worried she had been de-clawed because she has never tried to scratch us! She is very scared of Belle (I don’t blame her – Belle is not directly aggressive towards her, but is confused and distressed by her presence) but we are slowly working towards acclimating the two of them.


Today was incredibly eventful!

Since Kris is a government employee, the hardworking taxpayers of our commonwealth paid him to stay home and celebrate the most important of all holidays, President’s Day (that was sarcasm). We started out the day with some cinnamon rolls and attempts at cat-dog diplomacy. It went ok. The cat was too nervous to eat, but she successfully swatted at Belle’s tail and stepped on Belle once without anything terrible happening.

What a scaredy cat! She doesn’t have a name yet. We are considering both “Turtle” and “Gandalf the Grey” to suit her coloring.

We then finished watching Battlestar Galactica. I know we are about 10 years behind, but Kris and I are terrible at watching TV. And by terrible, I don’t mean that we watch so much TV that it is a bad habit or something. I mean that we actually struggle to watch TV. It is difficult for us to watch more than 2 episodes of a show in a row so we are incredibly slow at these things. It has been several years, so I shouldn’t worry about spoilers, but I am talking about the end of a series, so all I will say is that while I liked the “big picture” ending in terms of where they ended up, there were several elements of the last season, especially in the last few episodes, that I found pointless or that tarnished previous events in the show.

Because we finished this show we were able to move on to our two episodes of House of Cards for the day! As a political scientist, I obviously love this show. I will also say that as a political scientist I find none of the characters on the show surprising. What can I say – my discipline fosters political cynicism. Obviously no spoilers here, but my only concern with the show right now is that I am afraid they are too conveniently disposing of certain plot points from the previous season. I am willing to watch the whole season before finalizing that judgement, though. Also, no matter what Claire does, I will always admire her fashion choices. If I had a bazillion dollars I would probably dress exactly like her.

I think these looks would work just fine with curly brown hair and freckles. I already own big plastic glasses and a blue button down. Mine might have been $4 at Goodwill, though. I don’t really have an image source, I found it on Pinterest.

I also committed to a major decision today…”new” smartphones. Kris and I have had smartphones with Verizon for about 4 years, and our contract expires this week. When we originally got them, it was the best deal because he gets an employee discount and we had truly unlimited data. Obviously the cell phone service provider market has changed over the last 4 years, though, and now we are paying nearly $200 a month for two phones and if we renew our contract we will lose unlimited data. One of Kris’s coworkers recently switched his family to T-Mobile, where he is paying less than half of what we currently pay. The data won’t be as “truly” unlimited (our speeds will be slowed at a certain point), but there won’t be a sharp limit like we would have with Verizon, and we will save A LOT of money. His service in our area is perfectly fine and a friend with T-Mobile was able to use her phone at my parents, so I feel fine about switching away from the coverage that Verizon provides (always a concern because they live in the middle of nowhere; so do Kris’s parents but not a single provider gets service at their home so that is irrelevant). I had been putting off committing to the T-Mobile decision because of the upfront cost, though – while we would still save money with the financing plans they offer for phones, we knew we would save even more if we brought our own purchased phones on in the long run. At the suggestion of many things I have read on the internet and Kris’s coworker, we broke down and purchased 2 used Nexus 4’s today. We got the phones for less than $200 each so after 4 months the phones will essentially be paid for in savings – less time if we can sell our own phones – but because we have always relied on Verizon phone subsidization and always purchased brand new phones it is a little bit scary to be doing this. I hope that it works out!

Unfortunately, this weekend was not all fun and excitement, at least in terms of health. I am very proud of myself for sticking to my commitment to run, despite the snow and ice – trust me, it was tempting to give up while slogging through 12 inches of snow only .6 miles into a 5 mile run on Sunday – but my diet has been terrible lately. I will have one or two “good” days a week where I stick to my calorie limit, but the rest of the days have been relatively bad.

I will start out strong in the morning, and most of my meals with be healthy, but a big problem has been my work schedule. I have to eat before my shifts or I will be STARVING and eat a bunch of unhealthy pizza place food, and sometimes I end up eating a bunch of it anyway (especially if I work during the times when we have our pizza buffet and I am encouraged to take food home that is being thrown away); sometimes my shifts are long so I have to eat during them anyway; and I am invariably hungry when I get home from work. I feel less “bad” if I come home and have something like nuts, hummus and crackers, or fat-free popcorn, but “good” calories still count. I just hope I am burning some extra calories with my more active job.

My general attitude has been a problem as well. I am still on the hunt for a full-time job, obviously, and despite the fact that I should be elated that I have had numerous interviews after only being on the job market for about 6 weeks, I can only feel fear that I will never get a job offer and I will spend the rest of my life waiting tables with a master’s degree. I have expressed this fear on here several times, so I apologize for being repetitive and whiny, but it has been a major issue with my diet. This was especially true this weekend – I had a really bad night at work on Saturday (pissed off a table) and spent most of the night crying after I got home. Yesterday and today were a lot better, but a lot of today’s “fun” came from eating unhealthy food – we started with cinnamon rolls, went out for Mexican and ice cream, and I have eaten about 2 lbs of chocolates I bought when I was feeling miserable still on Sunday morning. I just want to eat out of nervousness, boredom, and sadness all of the sudden, which is surprising to me because this has not been a real obstacle before. I know I am just making excuses and that it might actually help me to feel better if I were to increase the healthiness of my diet but it has just been a bigger obstacle lately. Hopefully I can stick to my goals a little better in the coming week. Who knows – maybe I’ll even get some good news on the job front?

Food Friday

I hope everyone is having a good Valentine’s Day! Kris and I will be spending it the way we usually do – apart! I have to work for like 9 or 10 hours today so he will have to chill out alone most of the evening until I get home. At least we won’t be in separate states for it this year 🙂

We usually don’t exchange gifts, but figured that since we would actually be in the same city that we should go out for a date. We ended up going out on Tuesday night because Kris had Warhammer on Wednesday, the giant snowstorm occurred yesterday, and I have to work today, tomorrow, and Sunday!

For our date we went to a local restaurant that Kris went to for a former coworker’s retirement party. I really enjoyed it. One of the reasons we went there was that it was BYOB I’ve never been to a BYOB place before and I must say it was nice to enjoy wine for both of us for only $11! I’m always really awkward at drinking wine in restaurants, though, because I don’t know any etiquette (this was most embarrassing when we got wine at a really nice place in NYC and the server wanted us to sniff and taste the wine first and we were just kind of like “well, it doesn’t seem terrible, so we’re cool”).

I really enjoyed the food at this place, too. sorry I didn’t take any pictures – the atmosphere didn’t seem right for me to be snapping tons of smartphone photos (we were in a room of maybe 8 tables). We shared the best spanakopita I’ve ever had as an appetizer (spinach-feta phyllo pastries – they are a mediocre generic app at a lot of places, not here); for my entree I had fried ravioli with spinach in a creamy sauce, one of their many vegetarian options (they were a bit more crunchy than I expected, though); and we shared an amazing piece of tiramisu for dessert! I love chocolate but tiramisu is always one of my favorites. The place was a little more pricey but I didn’t feel like it was overpriced because of the quality of the food, which is rare because I can be a super cheap person.

I tried a ton of new things for Food Friday this week!

I’ll start with Sunday, when I actually had enough energy to take crappy smartphone photos of what I was making. I tried a second recipe from Budget Bytes – “Italian Wonderpot.

I don’t think I significantly changed anything about this recipe. It turned out really well and the serving sizes were larger than I was imagining on the basis of the photo that she showed. I’d probably use a bit more seasonings next time, though, as it wasn’t quite as flavorful by the time I got around to eating it as I thought it would be from the smells while cooking! Kris really enjoyed it as well, and it was VERY low in calories (about 350 per serving), so I am sure I will be making it again.

Everything I used to whip this together.

In the pan…I included this because it looks so much less appetizing than the photo on her site, especially with all that shimmery olive oil!

The finished product!

The rest of the week we basically ate this for leftovers, until Thursday, when we were stuck at home all day and decided to do nothing but eat. Seriously – we started out the day with cinnamon rolls, snacked on apples and peanut butter, and I tried new recipes for lunch AND dinner. I’m really glad it doesn’t normally snow this much! Unfortunately I was not as diligent with snapping photos of these, so you will just have to rely on my descriptions.

When I went home for Christmas, my grandpa had given me some canned salmon for some inexplicable reason. Well, perhaps it was that he had no idea what to do with it, because neither did I. I Googled “recipes with canned salmon” and came across a list of 50 things to do with it. The first thing on the list sounded easy enough so that is what we had for lunch. It was…ok. I was really grossed out by the canned salmon -it was like slimy looking and there was a lot of skin I had to peel off –  and sort of lost my appetite. I would have been happier just with the eggs, potatoes and vegetables, I think, but I made it with the intent of using the salmon so I made myself eat it. To be fair, this was “smoked salmon,” and it had like maple syrup and brown sugar in it or something, so perhaps that is why it was slimy looking. I have plain canned salmon and I’ll give it another chance with one of the other recipes later.

For dinner, I was inspired by this recipe for black bean-quinoa enchiladas. The added bonus of this recipe was that I got to give crockpot beans another attempt to make black beans and it went quite successfully. My freezer is now full of beans! I wanted actual enchiladas rather than a casserole, so I I halved the recipe and cooked it up in some tortillas. The only other major change I made to this recipe was that I used canned green chiles instead of bother to chop up a jalapeno, because the jalapenos at my grocery store are generally overpriced and low quality. I really enjoyed these, though I thought the calorie count was a little high (my fault for using tortillas) and Kris must have really liked them because he ate like half of the pan – there went my plan for leftovers! I still think I personally prefer the butternut squash ones I made before, though.




I Also Can’t do Yoga

My last post concerned exercises that I am bad at doing. Today reminded me that I should probably add yoga to that list.

Some of you might be aware that this winter has been particularly unpleasant. I really assumed we would be thawing out by now and I would not have to worry about snow until next December-ish. We got about 9-10 inches of snow today, though, so obviously I was wrong. Last week when we got about 6 inches I mentioned that we hadn’t had this much since “snowmaggedon” in 2010…. well a week and a half later and we get pretty much the amount of snow we got during that storm. Everything was shut down pretty much…even the pizza place, which warned me I would probably be called in was apparently closed.

At least the massive amount of snow has been balanced by pretty much the best clean-up efforts I’ve seen in the city all winter. My street was plowed multiple times (it took nearly a week to be treated after the ice storm) and some neighbors even came around the block with their snowblower! We’ve taken Belle for a couple of walks, and while the park is still completely covered in snow – to the extent that Belle must leap through it because it is deeper than her legs – the sidewalks are relatively clean, so I should still be able to get a run in this weekend.

Snow almost up to my knees!

Coming in at 9 inches this morning.

Belle making an epic journey up a hill.

She wound up covered in snow!

Kris built a snowman. Sorry it doesn’t have a face, we couldn’t find any implements under all the snow.

Anyway, despite the possibility that I might be able to run later in the week, I was certainly not going to be able to today – it didn’t really stop snowing heavily until late in the afternoon. I’d planned on this, though, and decided to run Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday and just do a workout video today (I have to work 10 hours Friday and Saturday). I don’t really like to put all my runs together and then have a lengthy break like that, but with my work schedule and the weather I felt like I had no choice.

I decided to choose Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown as my workout today due to the fact that I was looking for something different and it is very highly rated on Amazon Prime Instant Video. It is important to keep three things in mind, though:

  • I have never really done yoga and know nothing about it
  • I have no balance
  • I have no coordination

Therefore, a yoga workout video wasn’t just something “different” for me…it was incredibly challenging! I had no idea what any of the position names meant and was scrambling the whole time. Kris also became concerned because he kept hearing me yell at the TV. This is because I was falling over during certain poses. As I said to him afterwards “I didn’t really feel like that was an intense workout, but it was a very difficult workout.”

There is a silver lining to my embarrassing inability to do this beginner yoga video, though: it gives me a challenge to work with. I also think that working on it will be very helpful if I ever improve – perhaps my balance and coordination will become better, after all! It also gives me more chances to practice the terrible push-ups and lunges. I would do this video again…but let’s just ignore the fact that there is apparently a “level 2” for awhile.




Exercises I “Can’t” Do

First things first – I found another article today. This one, however, is from only 2 days ago, so I’m not late to the party, and I am going to praise it rather than rant about it. I really like this article. Too often, I find that articles about the “obesity epidemic” either make it seem like anyone could lose weight if they just followed this one set of particular advice backed up by SCIENCE, or like no one could ever lose weight because statistics say they can’t*. Instead, this guy gets the point across: our knowledge on the link between nutrition, obesity, and other diseases is very limited, there are reasons for these limits that could be addressed if we really wanted to, and the implication is that we can’t fix the “problem” until our knowledge expands. I do have a couple of minor issues with the article – despite his insistence that we don’t know much about the topic, he is acting like the link between diabetes and obesity is obvious – but overall it is refreshing to read an article that doesn’t fall into one of the two camps I mentioned.

Now, on to the topic at hand: exercises that I somehow suck at.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I was reminded of some of my limits by the stair workout I discussed Friday. Namely, I am terrible at push-ups and lunges. These both baffle me – I can do hundreds of body weight squats, and can do a bazillion push-ups on my knees, but these two moves elude me. I can maybe do one regular push-up before I fail, no matter how many sets I do on my knees; when I do lunges I become wobbly and hurt my knees, though I seem to do lunges slightly better with my right leg forward. Here is my plan to address these issues:

  1. Figure out why I’m having the problems. I think this step could be considered done-ish. I think that there is just too big of a step between knee push-ups and regular ones for me to make the jump, and I need to find something in between to work on for now. The pain in my knee during lunges suggests to me that I lack proper form. The wobbliness and pain together suggest to me that I am probably lacking balanced strength in some muscles somewhere.
  2. Figure out potential solutions. This is the step I am working on now. I remembered that NROLFW suggested incline push-ups over knee push-ups, so I am going to see if that helps. So far, these feel more difficult than doing them on my knees, so hopefully this solution checks out. For the lunges, I am going to start reading up on form and trying to figure out if I have any particular weak muscles that might be leading to my issues that I could try to strengthen with alternative exercises.
  3. Use the solutions to fix the problems and be finally able to make the most of these workouts. Once I figure out solutions, I am going to devote myself to practicing these workouts. I am going to set a goal to do push-ups and lunges 3 times a week, even if I only do like 5 of each (2 times will be as part of my goal to strength train 2 times per week, so I won’t ONLY be doing these moves). My hope is that every time they come up in a workout I won’t feel miserable and panic and just wait for them to be over because they are so difficult for me.

On a more positive workout related note, I went for a (very slightly) faster 5K run in the ice today! I am glad I pushed myself to get out there – now that I got over it and did it one time, the second time was so much easier. I am just hoping that we don’t get the 8-12 inches of snow they are calling for on Thursday. Yeah, right. At least if we do I will get more hours at work since none of my coworkers have the ability to drive in the snow.

This reminds me – because of my work schedule, Kris and I will need to do Valentine’s day on Wednesday (read:tomorrow), after I get off work on Saturday at 8, or on Monday, and we have made zero plans. What should we do?!

*Mini-rant about these statistics: First of all, where does the statistic that 90% (or 95%, or whatever it is right now) of diets fail? Did they take a survey that asked people whether they were on a diet and whether it had worked? I bet 90% of people are constantly on a “diet” that they aren’t really trying very hard at which would really skew that measurement. Second, how long do I have to maintain my weight loss for it to count? One year? Two years? Five years? Until I die?! If I gain weight when I’m pregnant or injured and then lose it again how does that fit into the stats? Sorry, this is the stats nerd in me coming out to yell at others for lying with statistics.

Is Healthy Eating Affordable?

This morning I woke up, sad that I was supposed to be starting training for the Capital 10 Mile race but that I wouldn’t be able to. A few weeks back, when it had been snowing really hard and I wanted to dream about being able to run outside, I had written up a “training plan.” Basically, I figured out when I would need to start actually working on it if I started with a long run of 5 miles per week then went up one mile per week on that long run until I reached 10 miles, and that week was this week. I figured I could fill in the details at a later date, and assumed the snow would be melted by now. Oops.

I wound up going for a 3 mile run today, though – 18 degree temperature and ice-covered sidewalks and all. I had a discussion with Kris this morning in which I told him to “stop being a baby” and realized that I have been being a “baby.” Not because I was not running in the ice, snow, and cold before – I had no real reason to put myself in that position – but because I was going to let that excuse get in the way of a goal. I was willing to accept that I just wouldn’t be able to run the 10 mile race because of the weather right now, and I’m surprised I was going to abandon that goal so readily just because I don’t have access to a treadmill right now. I will admit that I would much prefer it if I could afford to join a gym and workout in a nice warm and dry space right now, but there is no reason I have to do that. It may have been less pleasant, but after I put on my ice spikes for my running shoes, I really had no excuse, and I was able to go out there and complete my run, even if it was slow and uncomfortable (11 minutes per mile!).

Last night, I noticed a link on my Facebook wall to an article that is a couple of months old. I had heard about this article before, but had not really read it. In the article, the author argues that it is feasible to eat “healthy” for under $6 a day, which is apparently an amazing feat because a) eating healthy is supposed to be “expensive” and b) the average person spends more ($7 ) per day on food, making his option “cheap.”

When I first heard about the article, all I saw was a discussion on a forum somewhere about how someone had proved that it “only” cost $6 a day to eat healthy, which implied that everyone who thinks that is expensive is incorrect. I saw a lot of responses reminding the person who held that opinion that for a lot of people, $6/day person is actually quite expensive – after all, that is over $700 a month for a family of four – and did not investigate further. Last night, I actually went and read the article, though, and I now have a number of my own thoughts to add (sorry I am a bit late to the bandwagon).

  1. Disclaimer before I start: Kris and I spend close to the national average on food, including eating out, and I consider this doing quite well at saving money on food. I shop exclusively at one store because I like it more and not because it saves me money. I am obviously in a privileged position in regards to grocery shopping, and one should keep that in mind when considering my opinions. To be fair, that national average is only $1 per day higher than he prides himself on achieving, which I don’t think is significantly higher – at least not the point that you can declare it as evidence that healthy eating is cheap.
  2. That being said, I do not disagree with his original premise. I believe it is possible to eat healthy on a budget, and I believe he is correct that the misconception that healthy food is more expensive does come from misrepresentative statistics, like comparison of calories per dollar.
  3. I would like to add that I personally believe that some of the other discussions on this matter come from different poorly represented statistics. A lot of these comparisons also compare healthy meals cooked at home to fast food menu items as though one is inherently healthy and one is not. Setting aside for the moment the subjective nature of healthy, let us think about what would happen if we compared healthy and unhealthy meals of more similar types. Are grilled chicken value meals significantly more expensive than burger ones? How about a grilled chicken meal vs. a red meat and potatoes meal at home? If we stop comparing apples and oranges (to be fair, I think in this context they would be in the same category and be unable to be compared) I think the statistics would be less shocking.
  4. We also need to think about what is meant by the word “expensive.” In the article, this man spends less on his entire day’s food than some people might spend at McDonald’s (it is less than most value meals, and similar in price to a handful of value menu items). He also, however, spends $76 at the grocery store in order to do this, and does not  show evidence that he understands grocery budgeting in this trip. He buys ingredients only with these 3 meals and 2 snacks in mind. I bought twice as many items at the store last time I went for the same approximate price, including $20 I spent on paper products! To be fair, he buys enough to  make his omelets and parts of his sandwiches for a couple of days, but he is going to quickly run out of snacks, parts of his sandwich, and sides for his chicken. He did not meal plan at all, and in order to eat a second day, he is going to need to return to the store. He also doesn’t discuss trying to shop sales/seasonal items or buying certain produce in bulk to save money (it is way more expensive to buy one apple or potato  than to buy a whole bag on a per item basis). Even if he had done proper meal planning and sale-shopping, it is important to remember that spending that much in one trip might not be possible for someone with small paychecks, making it impossible for them to “stock up” and reap the benefits of lower long term cost. To that person, it might seem better to grab a couple of $1 items at a fast food place here and there; to grab some hamburger helper and a pound of beef to last 1-2 meals; to subsist on ramen once the money runs out altogether.
  5. One thing no one is discussing is what this man’s actual diet consists of. As I previously mentioned, “healthy” is subjective, but I would say that most people include “eating enough calories to sustain oneself” in their definition. If you tally up the calories that this man ate – despite his claims that he is a large man, and therefore he couldn’t possibly be skimping on calories – it is roughly 1600-1700. A man his size probably needs 500-1000 more calories a day, depending on age, activity level, etc. To put this in perspective, I am 10 inches shorter than him and weigh 70-75 lbs less and I eat more than he did on a daily basis. Unless his goal is weight loss, he is going to need to eat more. On average, I eat 20% more than this per day (roughly). If we assume that 20% more eating equals 20% more spending (a bit of a jump, I admit), his spending would come far closer to the national average, making his “accomplishment” seem far less amazing.
  6. I would like to end by pointing out that there are a number of issues that I have not touched on that others have brought up in the past, and I largely did not bring them up because others have discussed them at length – I wanted to contribute to the discussion, not beat a dead horse. I will briefly state, though, that I agree that many articles like his dismiss the issues that many of the poor who fail to eat healthy face, like not having enough time to cook and clean up dishes after working long hours, or difficulty getting to far away grocery stores without a car (or even if they have a car, money for gas).