Category Archives: Life Lately

Who is really telling you to lose weight? (And why they might not always be right)

This post has been sitting with me for awhile, not because I’m afraid to talk about what follows, but because I want to give it the time and discussion deserves. Today we’re talking about diets and the people who tell you to go on them. My idea for writing this came from a recent visit to my home gym in Pittsburgh. I went there all the time during high school, and while the bathroom had a scale, it was never super weight loss oriented. Things seem to have changed since I came back. I may be more sensitive to the issue now that I’ve recovered, but I also think that the gym went a little nuts. They hired a supposed “weight loss professional” who promises that the key to happiness is to lose a few pounds. Her magic weight loss plan works not through healthy diet and exercise, though, but simply by having breakfast for dinner and vice versa.

Um….what? That kind of sounded sketchy…and quite possibly like it wouldn’t work. I looked further into her credentials and found that while this woman is a “certified life coach” she has no training in nutrition or dietetics, nor is she a group exercise instructor or personal trainer. Yet, she was posing as an expert in weight loss and nutrition (and by working in the gym, exercise), when she truly had no credentials. I was startled….any person off the street can tell people what’s healthy weight loss? And they can write a book about it? Insanity!

So, I started looking into the people behind the diets we follow more. Houston, we have a problem. Weight Watchers, perhaps the biggest weight loss business in the U.S., hires the local group leaders based merely on whether they lost weight using the program. So when you attend these programs, you really aren’t in the safe hands of a nutritionist who can track what HEALTHY and SAFE weight loss is. Rather, you are working with someone who found success using a point system that may not work for everyone. Yes, I am aware the program works for many people – I cannot bash that. The issue is, though, that they hire people whose only qualifications are having lost weight to handle the weight loss of others. They may not understand the psychological effects of weight loss, or what happens when someone loses TOO MUCH weight.  That’s a problem.

The trend continued when I noticed a girl who I graduated high school with selling “weight loss supplements” (aka dangerous diuretics) on Facebook, promising huge weight loss in less than a month. She, despite having no nutrition or fitness credentials, was offering free consultations to people so she could tell them how to use the pills. Not only are diuretics unsafe to begin with, but to have someone touting these as a safe way for people with different anatomies and disease profiles to lose weight was totally wrong.

It happened on a national scale recently too, as well. Dr. Oz, ever the promoter of this new gimmick and that new method to lose weight, went to Congress to share information on removing bad diet pills from the U.S. market. He apparently forgot that he constantly implores his audience to lose weight, but Senator Claire McCaskill called out the lack of science behind his claims.

“The scientific community is almost monolithic against you in terms of the efficacy of the three products you called ‘miracles,'” McCaskill said. “When you call a product a miracle, and it’s something you can buy, and it’s something that gives people false hope, I don’t understand why you need to go there.”

Yes! Finally, someone in the government talking sense on weight loss. You can learn more about the issue here, but the point is, this isn’t just an issue stuck in my tiny town in western Pennsylvania. And, to be frank, the issue isn’t simply solved by only allowing “professionals” to tout weight loss. First, you have to realize that people are making unscientific, unsafe claims about ways to lose weight. Every body is different – different bodies respond differently to different foods. There is no universal HEALTHY way to lose weight…that’s for a person to figure out for themselves. Secondly, these same people telling us to lose weight hold the belief that weight loss is equivalent to health, which isn’t true. Markers like cholesterol levels, movement abilities, blood pressure and blood sugar – things doctors and nutritionists measure – are far better indicators of health.

Because the gym is for so much more than weight loss!

Because the gym is for so much more than weight loss!

As someone who loves to eat healthy foods, and as a fitness instructor with responsibility to protect participants from these flawed messages, I want this to change. We, as healthy eaters, as fitness professionals, as humans on planet earth, can the tout health benefits that come from food or exercise, but we cannot make claims about weight loss, weight gain or miracle supplements that claim to “cure” fatness. The truth is that each person’s body operates differently. Some will thrive on a low carb or gluten free diet – others will become emaciated. And, better yet, fatness isn’t something to be cured. Diseases that often, but not always come along with obesity are though. Instead of pressuring others to buy into your diet, think first. Then, change the conversation. Think about touting health benefits over weight loss. And if you must bring weight loss up, say this worked for me, but that doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. And for the love of god, please remember, the lower number on the scale doesn’t always mean better health.

What are your thoughts? Has someone ever told you to lose weight who wasn’t qualified?

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Summer Bucket List Update

Have I mentioned before on here that I absolutely adore summer? Because you know what? I do. This summer is shaping up to be a pretty exciting and busy one. I’m doing a lot. Seeing new things. Baking new treats. Meeting up with old friends. Working hard. Going back to my roots. It’s great and without the pressure of school, I’m thriving. Summer, needless to say, is my happiest of happy places.

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Since we’re a little over halfway through the first month of bucket list goals, I decided to check in. Here is my bucket list post so you can check it out!

  1. Go for a bike ride on the Boston Trail. Not yet! Maybe next weekend?
  2. Go camping! I’m going mid-July, the week before my trip to Austria, with my best friend Tessa and our boyfriends. Stay tuned for that adventure!
  3. Get a tan. Halfway there, I say. I have the awkward boob tanline, so that’s pretty exciting!
  4. Learn to roast a chicken, Julia Child style. Ugh, no, not yet!
  5. Swim! Done and done! (though I would love to swim more! :))
  6. Learn to make alterations with the sewing machine. I made alterations on a bikini top already…now onto a skirt!
  7. Go out to dinner for lobster. Still awaiting my chance!
  8. Pick blackberries and bake a pie! It’s not pie season yet 😦
  9. Finish season seven of Mad Men. Ugh this one is taking me ages! I did, though, start watching Bob’s Burgers.
  10. Read. A lot. I’m done with Joyous Health and with The Fault in Our Stars (sobbing at 2 a.m., it’s fine). I did get a stack of books from a Half Price book sale (all for $2 each) so I have a ton more to get through!

The list definitely could use more progress, but I’m getting there! In other ways, I’ve done a lot. I’ve seen three concerts since we last checked in – Jeff Tweedy, Ben Folds with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Jake Bugg. I visited the zoo and Sandcastle. I’ve been working out HARD at the gym and feeling good about it. And, of course, I’ve baked a couple of recipes of donuts that I’m eager to share.

I’m excited to cross off more things, and I’m considering continuing the list for each season. What do you think? Whats on your summer bucket list?

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Summer Bucket List

Summer is here! Finally! It’s been a long time coming. Believe me, I’m beyond excited for all of the adventures this summer is sure to bring. I will be traveling to Austria for three weeks at the end of July, which is going to be incredible, but also scary on the allergy front. In between now and then, I’m working full time and trying to soak up as much sun and summer fun as I can. This weekend I spent outside as much as possible – I visited the Pittsburgh Zoo, took a hike with my boyfriend and his brothers in the fields behind their house, went for a run at Duff Park through the woods and spent a lot of time just chilling on my porch. Glorious! While this weekend has already proved that summer is going to be great, I figured setting a few goals for the summer wouldn’t be a bad thing 🙂

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Summer Bucket List

  1. Go for a bike ride on the Boston Trail. I used my bike so much during the fall semester, but I didn’t use it as much in the spring. I want to get back into riding, though. It’s so peaceful, and I’ve always liked it more than running. Aside, of course, from the nasty soreness the next day!
  2. Go camping! The food (mountain pies, s’mores!), the hiking, the friendship, sleeping under the stars. What could be better?
  3. Get a tan. Last summer, I spent a lot of time inside working. While it gave me great experience (and  a fair amount of extra cash), I was left ghost white. This summer, things will be different!
  4. Learn to roast a chicken, Julia Child style. Julia Child is such an inspiration to me – I love how she cooks things so they taste good, rarely worrying about how much butter or fat is involved. And now that I’m eating chicken again, I feel like it’s the perfect time!
  5. Swim! I love being in the water – as a kid, I spent hours in my babysitter’s pool. I started off the summer season right last weekend by swimming at a friends, not feeling self conscious about my swimsuit one bit. Can’t wait to continue the good vibes!
  6. Learn to make alterations with the sewing machine. Life would be so much easier if clothes off the rack just fit. But alas, I’m 5 feet tall, wear a DD cup, and am petite otherwise – not quite the easiest sizing arrangements. So I plan to learn how to (at least) shorten skirts and pants, and also hopefully to take in dresses and tops.
  7. Go out to dinner for lobster. Never done it. I need to. Self explanatory, I say.
  8. Pick blackberries and bake a pie! This was my favorite activity from last summer – I can’t wait to do it again. 🙂
  9. Finish season seven of Mad Men. My boyfriend and I were addicted to this show during the school year. Now that it’s warm outside, we’ve been slacking on making sure to catch up.
  10. Read. A lot. I’m hoping to get through some cookbooks, “Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures,” “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Joyous Health.”

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What are your summer plans? 

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Life Lately

Life lately has been crazy busy. I’ve done a ton of writing and eating in the past few weeks, but most certainly not enough cooking. I started an internship with the McClatchy Tribune news service, which was an amazing opportunity, but one that made me insanely busy. It was so worth it, though – I wrote over 20 stories, including some about food and exercise!

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The never ending list of stories

The best part was that I was working in DC. I drove down each week and stayed with family and, while it was stressful, it was an amazing experience. Second to writing, my favorite part was the food! I worked in Metro Center, super close to a ton of food trucks. My favorite was Stella’s Popkern – a popcorn only food truck that had nut free and all natural ingredients. Yum! I also visited several local farmer’s markets in preparation for the school year. Peaches from the Riverdale Market became a favorite for sure.

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Riverdale Peaches!

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My first roadtrip alone

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I made avocado pasta for my family

 

 

Eaten on my second food truck Friday...Stella's Popkern!

Eaten on my second food truck Friday…Stella’s Popkern!

But I didn’t just drive around and eat (contrary to popular belief, I do more than that). I went to a local YogaFest, and afterwards, I ate at an amazing Mexican restaurant called Emiliano’s with my boyfriend…it’s my new Pittsburgh favorite.

Fajitas...yum!

Fajitas…yum!

I also joined a mailing club called The Owl Post. Ladies from around the United States, joined through their mutual love of mail are participating, sending packages and swapping letters. My favorite part of it (aside from PACKAGES) is that a lot of the women involved are a little older than me, so most know how to cook and live on their own…all I have to do is ask their advice on things!

Some lovely mail (and a new recipe!)

Some lovely mail (and a new recipe!)

I made Carmelitas to send in my first package

I made Carmelitas to send in my first package

My family also recently found out that my younger sister has Celiac. Soon we will be transitioning from a family who has one person who can’t eat wheat to two, which means we’ll be eating a lot less gluten around here. While I’m leaving for University of Maryland in a week, I plan to try a lot of gluten free recipes so I can impress my little sister with some great recipes. Be sure to look for our new favorites!

My little sister, enjoying life gluten free

My little sister, enjoying life gluten free

In these next few weeks, I hope to be cooking and baking a lot more, so expect some new and interesting recipes. Look for some new summer salads, as well as two new breakfast recipes (both oatmeal! :)) I also hope to have some new features on the blog in the weeks to come. One will be about allergen friendly businesses and allergy news – a carousel of links to really interesting stuff on the allergy front. The other will be one that melds my love of tea, and my love of baking…it’s going to be all about pairing tea with favorite baked goods. 

Until next time!

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