Life Isn’t Fair. Get Over It.

If everyone else is breaking rules, why can’t I break the rules?

Dark Walk Bridge

10pm on a Saturday night, I was walking home from the train station by myself.

My mom and brother told me the week they moved me into my apartment, “I don’t think this would be a good way to walk home at night.” But, I ignored them.

They told me I should wear a shroud, walk with a limp, trail drops of blood, and drag a dollar on a string behind me. I really should have gone with that plan…

“It’s ten PM,” I thought. “What could possibly happen at such an early hour?”

I was about halfway down the walking path (seen above) when a man passed me on a bike wearing dark clothing. I panicked a little, but he passed me and continued on down the trail. I put my head down and told myself, “Seriously, Sarah. Not EVERYONE in dark clothing is trying to rob you. He’s probably just trying to get home – like you.” I kept walking down the trail – getting closer and closer to the locked gate that attaches to my apartment complex.

I was just about 50 feet away from the safety of my gated neighborhood when he rode back towards me from the darkness. This time he was headed straight for me – not choosing to take the opposite side of the walkway. I knew something was wrong before he reached in his jacket to pull out a gun.

You have no idea how you’re going to react to something like that until it actually happens to you. My reaction was a surprise to me. I wasn’t mad. I didn’t cry. I didn’t panic.

I LITERALLY started to mother him with a look of disapproval.

I tilted my head to one side “Are you serious?” I asked with a tired look on my face.

He was serious. “Come on, man. Look at you. You’re young. You’re healthy. You’re good looking. Why do you have to do stuff like this to get by?”

He refused to answer me, but looked surprised. “Just give me your money!”

“Look, I don’t even have much with me. You really could have picked someone better to rob…” He rolled his eyes, growing visibly impatient, “What’s in your purse?!”

We briefly discussed the contents of my purse (that I had pared down to the very minimum earlier that night). He decided he still wanted to rob me, so I handed him my purse. He gestured to my phone.

“Aw! My phone? Let me keep this. You don’t need it.” He must have felt like I wasn’t taking him seriously enough because he spun the revolver and moved closer to my abdomen.

SIDENOTE: He must have known I was a dietitian. I knew exactly where the gun was pointed (my large and small intestine) and considered whether I would want to kill my love of food/eating meals that quickly. Visions of a ruptured bowel from a gun shot wound flashed through my head and my decision was made.

I gave him my phone. He quickly checked my pockets, and then he was off. He was caught, but then escaped after pursuit onto the train tracks of Philadelphia.

I didn’t cry (until three days later when I realized how scary it was). I didn’t get angry. I didn’t blame him. I would say I handled the whole experience… okay. I even attempted to forgive him so that I wouldn’t have to carry the burden of being held at gunpoint for the rest of my life.

But it was hard.

Fast Forward 2 Months…

My friend Sarah and I were driving in a district called Manayunk – a place renowned for the difficulty of finding a parking spot. We’re not having much luck…when suddenly, I see a spot on the opposite side of the street.

I consider my options and decide to do a U-turn – even though I know it’s illegal. A person does what a person has to do in order to get a good parking spot. Right?

Wrong.

In the midst of this maneuver, I waited for oncoming traffic to pass, but forgot to check behind me again. I pulled out to turn and a car slammed into my driver side door.

Luckily, everyone was okay. But, I was pretty upset with myself for weeks afterwards.

I kept asking myself, “What makes you feel so special, Sarah, that you can put other peoples lives in danger to break rules?”

I was thinking about this as I was riding home on my bicycle and realized that I am probably not much different than my robber from two months before. I looked at his situation and thought, “How can you be like that? You have so much going for you. Why do you need to break the rules that keep us safe?”

And, I could say the same for myself.

We could have both taken the life of another person from our decision on those two separate nights. Sure, our intention was SLIGHTLY different (not a lot different – both intentions were born out of selfishness), but the outcome could have been the same.

As it turns out, my robber and I, we’re not that different after all. And you know what? It made forgiving him a whole lot easier.

What did I learn?

It gets easier to justify selfish tendencies (like breaking traffic laws for your own benefit or robbing a girl at night for the money in her purse) when it seems like everyone else around you is doing it too.

But, it’s not okay.

I’m SURE there are things in your life that you’re able to justify with the statement, “But HE/SHE is doing it!”  Don’t let yourself get away with it. I hate to bring it back to my profession, but I see this over and over with bad food choices. “But, so-and-so is doing it! It’s not fair!”

Too bad. Life isn’t always fair.

Anyone that told you otherwise was lying to you.

It’s a little kid lesson come back to be re-learned as an adult. Hopefully, you won’t have to get robbed and wreck a car in order to learn it. :-/

 

Don’t Waste a Workout

Sunday was a lovely afternoon.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little restless because I have been used to spending all this quality time with the roommate and now he is TOO busy with work to hang out with me. I’ll admit I was spoiled. Since he’s been gone, living solo has made me a little restless…

I could either wander around the house looking for something to do or I could get out of the house and have a chance at not going crazy. So, I set out to go read my book by the pool.

Unfortunately, the pool was closed.

Not to be set off my course, I decided, “That’s fine. I’ll just walk down to the river and read my book there.” It’s a bit more of a walk and there are a few more people, but it was a really pretty day, so I didn’t mind.

East Falls

The unfortunate part about choosing to lay by the river rather than the pool is the number of tiny bugs that enjoy warm human flesh snacks in the afternoon. I did not enjoy being the “human,” so my time by the river was short lived.

I was walking home bummed out and thinking how much nicer it would have been to be in a pool instead of being eaten alive by fire ants when I noticed that, magically, the pool was now open! I threw off my cover up and jumped in with enthusiasm… ahem, I carefully lowered myself into the freezing cold pool and convinced myself I would enjoy it… eventually.

A new friend…

After about two laps, I heard someone calling my name behind me. It was Erin, a (beautiful and very fit) girl I knew from Crossfit. How perfect! A friend!

I got out of the pool and went to sit by her as she tanned. We talked literally for hours (perfect since I had nothing to do).

Being typical Crossfitters, we got onto the subject of working out. Both of us were acknowledging how frustrating it was to have people assume that we were working out to look a certain way. In truth, that is secondary and I would rather get less attention for my body rather than more. I work out because I LOVE working out. I also LOVE being part of a team. I LOVE competing. Part of this “love” entails getting stronger; and of course, protein powder.

Protein powder comes up when you talk about working out, too. Right?

Erin was saying that some girls who join Crossfit are scared to start looking more muscular, so they won’t do protein powder after a workout; but once they started adding it in – they made the body shift with no problem and learned to appreciate it.

This hit a little close to home for me, because I HAD been doing protein powder, but stopped when my silly roommate started teasing me about it.

It got me thinking – I wonder how many of my readers are wasting their workouts.

Girls with Muscle

Over and over, I find that my patients are missing basic foundational truths of life. Here is one of those missed simple truths: YOUR MUSCLES ARE YOUR BODY’S STORES OF PROTEIN.

Think of it like a bank. If you can build your muscles, then you have more in the bank for when you need it. You need protein (amino acids) to repair things and build new things in your body. It’s very important.

If you engage in RESISTANCE TRAINING and break down your muscle fibers, it is your responsibility to either…

  1. give you body some protein to help it rebuild, or
  2. force your body to break down other muscles to rebuild – essentially, rendering you the exact same as you were before.

Who would want to do all the work and end up the exact same as before?

Think about it… if you don’t let your body put on new muscle from your workouts, then you miss out on a lot! Muscle helps support your skeleton. People that are more fit don’t get hurt as easily. Muscle lets you move the things in life that need to be moved (this includes yourself, sometimes). Muscle helps you age well. Muscle speeds up your metabolism so that you can start eating more food and not run the risk of gaining weight.

It’s AWESOME.

Protein is key. It’s especially important if: 1) you’re older (>70) and wanting to maintain the muscle you have, 2) you’re sick and in the process of repairing your body, or 3) you’re working out and wanting to change your body composition through lifting weights.

FYI, You don’t have to use protein powder – there’s nothing magical about it. It’s just more convenient than cooking up 3-4 ounces of lean meat after each workout.

SIDE NOTE: It should make sense that meat consist of protein as you are essentially eating the muscle of another animal. It’s the quickest and most efficient way to get protein in your diet and it’s one of the major reasons I am not vegetarian.

In Summary: The Rules of Protein after a Resistance Workout

  1. 20-30 grams of protein should be fine for most people.
  2. Protein needs to be taken within an hour of finishing your workout.
  3. Don’t skip it. If you do, be prepared to not have the body change you were looking forward to

Alright, go forth. Make strong friends, lift heavy things, and eat/drink protein so your workouts count! And, enjoy that efficient metabolism that comes from putting on some muscle and burning fat.

Nuts for Breakfast

A real conversation between me and my roommate, Peter…

  • P: Are you going to make those nuts again tomorrow morning?
  • S: What nuts? The ones I left for you?
  • P: You LEFT those for ME?!?
  • S: Yeah, that’s why I put them there. I ate half; and left the other half for you whenever you got up.
  • P: I’ve been going by that plate all day – sneaking a few here and there! I thought to myself ‘She won’t notice if one more is missing…’ All this time, they were for me?!?! All of them?
  • S: Yeah.
  • P: Oh. (pause) Well, then why did you eat the rest of them later?
  • S: You weren’t eating them. I wasn’t just going to let them go to waste! They’re GOOD nuts!
  • P: (shakes his head and walks away) Make the nuts. Tomorrow.

It’s funny. The nuts are really easy to make. Nothing magical. And Peter is actually a really good cook. I think he just likes the fact that they appear magically in the morning. One day after making him nuts, I got this text message (from a person that hardly ever texts me, mind you)…

“Ohh how I’ve missed my nuts”

I was mad at him for not texting me back the previous day – so I intentionally did not respond to his reply. But, as my sister tells me, I can be tough when I need to be… “I’ll do your laundry and make you your special nuts, but I WILL NOT text you back. I’m mad at you.”

Anyways, I digress. The point is these nuts are the one thing I do well at home.

It’s almost enough to make a person cocky…

Prior to yesterday, I felt like anything I made with those nuts would be appreciated.

I was wrong. 

He was getting ready to leave for work and I was making breakfast. I asked him, “You want some breakfast.”

He says, “Eh, I’m not that hungry.”

I said, “How about a LITTLE breakfast? I made nuts…”

He smiles and agrees, “Okay a LITTLE breakfast then…”

The Breakfast Menu

Pancakes without syrup

I warmed up some pancakes (from last week – freeze any extras and pull out only as many as you need later) and decided I would make this delicious breakfast with whole grain pancakes, goat cheese, warm peaches, and maple spice nuts. I fixed myself two pancakes and him one.

We sat down to eat. Two bites into the meal, he looks at me. “Does this have cream cheese on it?”

I stop mid-bite, “No, it’s a little bit of goat cheese. Why? You don’t like it?”

He looks down at his pancake with a new look of disgust, “Ew. I don’t like goat cheese. Why does goat cheese have to taste like it came from the goat’s butt?”

I give him a look I’m sure my mother taught me, “Give me your pancake. You’re done. I’ll eat the rest.”

Unconcerned with my look, he smiles, slides his plate over to me, grabs a few extra nuts from the kitchen, tosses me a “Have a good day at work,” and he’s out the door. Meanwhile, my carefully planned portion grows by 33%. That man.

Despite my roommates very rude comments…

As long as you’re okay with goat cheese, I think you might like this pancake variation. (INSERT BIG-SMILE-TO-SELL-IDEA-OF-GOAT-BUTT-ON-PANCAKE HERE)

I certainly enjoyed it.

Recipe: Cinnamon Spice Nuts

Pancakes without Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 C Pecans
  • 1/3 C Almonds
  • 1/3 C Walnuts
  • 1 tsp Canola (or Coconut) Oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
  • Sprinkle of Black Pepper (if desired)
  • 2 Tbsp Maple Syrup

Directions:

  1. In a small skillet, heat nuts and oil until fragrant and toasted, but not burnt. Tossing frequently helps keep them from burning. Sometimes I put the lid on it if I’m in a hurry – but only for short periods. This process takes maybe 5-6 minutes.
  2. Once nuts are toasted, add spices and salt.
  3. Quickly thereafter, add the maple syrup and toss until mixture is dry in a hot pan.
  4. Remove from heat and place on a cool plate. Let nuts cool at least 6 minutes before eating. They will get crunchier after cooling completely.

A Note to the Diabetics: Syrup can be very difficult to incorporate in a low carb diet. 1 Tbsp Syrup = 15g carbohydrate. A 4-5 inch pancake = 15g carbohydrate. 1 medium peach = 15g carbohydrate. Things are adding up quickly. If 2 pancakes with a few syrup flavored nuts and 1/2 a piece of fruit don’t get you feeling full – you might consider adding eggs to this meal. I would NOT recommend adding more pancakes and syrup.

17 Small Grapes

Most of you know I’m a diabetes educator/dietitian..

nerd day at work

One of the main things I teach people is how to follow a consistent carbohydrate diet. It’s a really good diet because they’re able to meet the needs of their brain (130g glucose per day) while not overwhelming their body with a huge insulin response.

There are three main ways I teach people to count carbs:

  1. Reading Labels – Easy peasy. The only major hang up is when patients want to count “Sugars” instead of “Total Carbohydrate.” 
  2. Looking up Foods Online – Mostly for restaurant foods or foods with labels that they forgot to check, but eat frequently.
  3. Carbohydrate Counting – A way to (pretty accurately) estimate carbohydrates by sight. It basically teaches a person the portion/serving = 15g carbohydrate. For example, 4 inches of banana is 15g of carbohydrate. So, if I see an 8″ banana, I would automatically think “30g.”

Here’s where the 17 grapes come in…

Everyday, invariably, I will say something like, “This [gestures to handout] says 17 small grapes is equal to 1 carbohydrate choice or 15g of carbohydrate… but we don’t see small grapes anymore. We have BIG grapes. So, I’ll just write in ‘1/2 Cup of grapes = 15g carb.’ Mmk?”

Never have I had a patient call me out on this. They usually accept it and we go on with the education. Noooo problem. But, in the back of my mind, I’m always wondering, “Are 17 small grapes the same as 1/2 a cup? I THINK it is…”

And then…it happened.

I saw small grapes at a farmers market.

The woman behind the stall told me she would give me two for the price of one and that no one was buying them. She also told me that they were picked by her nephew “Jemmy.” She reminded me to be sure and wash them before I ate any because “Jemmy’s little hands were all over them.”

(I wonder why she wasn’t selling many small grapes touched by Jemmy?)

Jemmy’s hands don’t scare me.

I bought them.

I had to know if my 1/2 C guess for 17 small grapes was accurate. You know what? It wasn’t.

I’ve been wrong all along.

17 small grapes

Sister Smiles

You’re never too old or too young to change the world.

Torn ACL

 

Sometimes I have to stand back in amazement when I see the extraordinary persons my sisters have become. Our baby sister Amber is going away to college this week and the house will be empty for the first time in a long time. No more kids. We’re all grown up. But, right before she left, she and my other sister Bri had a chance to spend a few unexpected weeks together.

A lot of people would have been bummed about their first major knee surgery. Not Bri. She picks her attitude.

Happy CamperSeriously. This girl? ^^ Way too cute.

For the past two weeks, Bri came home to be a patient. Amber, our younger sister was her excellent nurse. And, I was not much help at all – being 1000 miles away.

Last Friday, I was talking to Bri on my way home from work (walking my bicycle in the park as the cars passed by in such a rush beside me). It was her first day back at her apartment and I asked how things were going. She responded that she was sad to be back – the few weeks she was home were some of “the best days of her life.”

Whoa! The best days of your life? You just had knee surgery!

They were so good because she, our finest multitasker, was forced to slow down. She had time to spend with our baby sister Amber and time to spend with our parents – even time to spend with me on the phone.

Staying busy,  Bri divides her time amongst so many different places. She’s either with her friends, at school, in the library studying, working at a country club, or hanging out with her boyfriend. Any time she’s with us, it’s carefully budgeted time – and it passes all too quickly.

I brought up the possibility this injury might have been a lesson on slowing down and she agreed. The time she got to spend with Amber before her first year of college was invaluable. Would she have taken that time to be her big sister if she hadn’t torn her ACL? It’s funny because Bri assured me that she talked to Amber about the “Important stuff. Not just the fun stuff.” Just like I used to talk to them about the “important stuff.”

It’s a nice thing when you know you can be 1000 miles away and still be there. All those years I helped guide them into becoming fine young women and now they’re capable of guiding each other without me.

You girls are good. You are very, very good. I am so very proud of both of you.

The BEST Oatmeal Scotchies

No mediocre desserts allowed.

Oatmeal Scotchies

I’m always telling my patients they should only have dessert when it’s the best. Why take in the calories on something decadent that’s meant to give you pleasure if it’s not that pleasurable? And so, usually I turn down dessert because there are so few people out there preparing really great desserts. Unfortunately, I am one of those people capable of preparing great desserts.

The problem comes when you find the perfect combination of ingredients for the perfect cookie that you are craving at that perfect moment… and then you have 16 of them sitting in your apartment. This is compounded by a roommate who is not really interested in dessert and does not help you eat them.

So… I may have eaten too many of these. But, I’m sure you won’t make the same mistake as I did. You’ll be smarter about it. You’ll freeze some of them or give some of them away. Or maybe you’ll run two miles for every cookie you eat. As for me, I will just have to work a little harder on my meals this week and push off the excess cookie slowly.

Anyways, I thought I would share these with you.

I usually just make the recipe on the back of the butterscotch chip bag, but I am always feeling like there is something missing. I decided to look up a new recipe – Paula Deans Oatmeal Scotchie Cookies and make some combination of the two. I figure Paula Dean usually knows what she’s talking about – especially when a recipe involves butter and sugar.

Recipe: The BEST Oatmeal Scotchies

Oatmeal Scotchies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C Salted Butter, softened
  • 1/2 C Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 C White Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 3/4 tsp Vanilla
  • 3/4 C Unbleached Flour
  • 1 1/4 C Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 C Butterscotch Chips
  • 1 1/2 C Walnut pieces

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix together the butter and sugars until mixture is creamy and smooth.
  3. Add egg and vanilla, mix well again.
  4. Add flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and oats. Mix well.
  5. Stir in walnuts and butterscotch chips.
  6. Drop large spoonfuls (2 Tbsp size probably) onto cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Remove and let cool on cookie rack.
  7. Enjoy – hopefully with other people. :)

A Note to the Diabetics: You don’t have to eat sugar free cookies, but you do have to count the carbohydrates for the cookie you’re eating. I recommend counting carbohydrates for the entire recipe and then dividing by the number of servings made. This recipe makes 20 cookies. There are about 407g of carbohydrate for the entire recipe divided by 20 cookies = 20g carbohydrate per cookie. Budget accordingly. Please, be better than your dietitian (i.e. Use more self control than I did. :)

photo 4(24)

Living the Good Life and Fancy Carrots

I have to say… I’ve been in a pretty good mood lately.

It could be because of the carrots. Or… it could be because I love my job. I love my apartment. I love my temporary roommate, Pete. I love my bicycle and the nice weather. I love my workouts at Crossfit. And I love my friends.

Everything is so nice and enjoyable.

How often do we talk about when things are going WELL in life? I think we should discuss it more.

Getting Settled in the City

It’s 7 months post-moving from Missouri and I am finally starting to feel like this is home for me. I am definitely not “city-fied” I still make all kinds of Missouri-girl mistakes like walking out in front of traffic, flashing my cellphone at night, and getting into creepy situations at the train station. BUT, I am learning. That’s what it’s all about, right?

Life is just one big event. Some parts are really fun and some aren’t. Some times we make really good decisions and sometimes we try to do better next time. But each moment is a choice.

What are you going to do with your moments?

Cooking a Good Dinner can be a lot like Living a Good Life

I might want to try something new, but I’m scared to do it. I might not want to go through the WORK of getting a really spectacular event. I might make myself too busy to make dinner and then dinner really isn’t that good. I might not invest in the right things.

Try new things. Don’t shy away from work. And make time to have fun. Invest in what matters.

Nutmeg Carrots

I picked up these beautiful carrots at the farmers market. I’ve never cooked whole carrots with the tops. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing, but I had an idea. This idea happened to be a very good one. I will share it with you below…

Recipe: Pan Seared Carrots with Nutmeg and Coconut Oil

 Ingredients:

  • 5-6 Fresh Multicolored Carrots
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Cracked Pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 Whole Nutmeg, grated

Directions:

  1. Heat a pan with no oil until very hot. (Try sprinkling water to see if it instantly sizzles.)
  2. Once pan is hot, add coconut oil.
  3. Trim tops off carrots, wash and dry.
  4. Add carrots to hot oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  5. Cook until outside begins to wilt or change in appearance.
  6. Remove from heat and enjoy.

A Note to the Diabetics: Among the “Vegetable” category, there lies a division between non-starchy vegetables and starchy vegetables. When I ask patients to tell me which vegetables might count as carbs (or starchy veg) they usually bring up carrots as a vegetable they have to limit. This is not true. Carrots are free (7g carb, 4g fiber, 3g net carbs digested over three hours) until you begin to eat portions of carrot above three cups at one time. So, with that being said, enjoy your carrots!