Healthy Restaurant Hacks

The weather is finally breaking. Fellas are baring arms for the gun show and ladies pulling out their favorite sundresses. Man, I love this time of the year! But pretty soon, it’ll also be cookout and sidewalk café season and the trainer in me sees some potential missteps afoot. We enjoy restaurants more when the weather is nice, but the fact that we’re out and being fancy is not an excuse to eat unhealthy foods. Research shows that the foods we choose when we eat out are typically of less nutritional value than those we make for ourselves at home. So, to a homebody like me, the answer seems clear; save your money for high quality foods you can cook and eat at the crib! But I get that most people are already setting up this spring and summer’s RSVPs. So if you must go out, here’s how to do it in a healthy way:

 

1) Quiz ‘Em!

Don’t just go by the menu. When you place your order, make sure you ask how the food is prepared. For example, you might have ordered something grilled and think you’ve made a healthy choice. What you  didn’t realize is that it’s coated in butter or slathered in honey first. Sure, your quick Q & A might irritate the wait staff but if you ask politely I’m sure they’ll oblige and you’ll have more control of your food intake.

2) Box It

If you go out to eat occasionally and absolutely MUST have that less than perfectly healthy option, honestly? Treat yo’self… in moderation. Most restaurants serve two to three times more than food labels list as a serving size. So, once you place your order, ask for a ” to-go box” on the front end. Before you start eating, put half your meal away. By doing so, you’ve right-sized your meal and even have some left for later. Brilliant and cost effective; my two favorite things.

3) Use Your Google(s)

Before heading out to eat, check the menu online. Most chain restaurants post their menus and all the nutritional information, so you have no excuse to claim that ” they only served unhealthy food so I had no options (insert sad, guilty clients’ name here).” If you see nothing healthy on that menu, pick another restaurant.

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4) Read Between the Lines

Whenever you see words like ” creamy, breaded, crisp, sauced” is likely loaded with hidden fats and carbs. So while the dish sounds good to your face, it most likely isn’t to any other parts of you. pay close attention to food descriptions and look for an alternative route.

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5) The Wolf in Health’s Clothing

Beware of the low-carb options. Many restaurants have jumped on the health band wagon and have put together a low carb list, but that doesn’t really mean low cal. For example, Ruby Tuesday’s has a meal called ” Low Carb New Orleans Seafood.” This ‘healthy” treat has 710 calories and over 40 grams of fat. Just so we’re clear; 40 grams of fat is a large percentage of most people’s fat intake. For the day.  This, my friend is called “the jig.” Diner be ware.

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6) Get Politely Picky

I have a friend who is an only child and so generally, people fed her whatever she wanted. They kind of created a monster. But,  what’s interesting is that whenever she goes out to eat, she considers the stated menu just a suggestion. She’ll partner with the wait staff to see if a fried dish can be grilled, or have the sauce on the side, or make a meal from sides and a salad. So, if you can’t find a meal on the menu that meets your nutritional needs, see if the restaurant is open to helping you make one up! If you’re a fan of sushi, ask if there’s a brown rice option. If you order a meal with a choice of sides, get double portion of veggies. Yes; this even works at fast food locations. Take the bun of the burger. Peel the breaded shell away from the chicken nuggets. Somewhere under all that filler is your daily dose of protein.


Okay, that’s my time; I have some dashing to do CHECK PLEASE!

* ask for check…starts car remotely through OnStar and suddenly needs to use the bathroom*

‘…Like a Girl.’

” You play ball like a giiirrrrrrl!”

-Ham Porter ( The Sandlot)

At that moment, we sat in front of the TV and wondered, ‘How does Phillip come back from that?! No way he lets that slide!’ And of course Phillips was stunned. Hell, I was stunned right along with him because at 8 years old, my friends and I couldn’t think of anything worse than being told you play ‘like a girl.’ It’s was like someone questioning your burgeoning manhood before you even got to fully enjoy it. Life just didn’t add up anymore; you didn’t know if you’re still allowed to enjoy the Powerpuff girls show (a personal fav) or if it’s best to immediately enlist in the military (you know, at 8, years old).

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Across genders, the inherent misogyny weaved into the “…like a girl” retort has been subtly (and sometimes boldly) fed to us since we were kids. But I’m avid fan of women in every arena, particularly as athletes.   And as I look at the exceptional skill I see in women like Serena Williams, Mia Moore and everyone in the lingerie football league, I wonder– what exactly does ‘Like a Girl’ mean? As we currently use the term, it basically suggests that when it comes to sports, women are second class citizens because they can’t possible be ” good” at it.

Look!  A picture of multiple-time US Open Champion Serena Williams holding a 'Not Good at Sports At All' cup

Look! A picture of multiple-time US Open Champion Serena Williams holding a ‘Not Good at Sports At All’ cup

The sports world couldn’t be anymore misogynistic. But that’s not where it starts. We place limitations on children and tell them what colors they should like (pink vs. blue), what games they can enjoy (Barbie vs. SpiderMan)and what sports they should care for (football vs cheerleading; both of which are exceptionally physical). You know what that creates? Small-minded men who are threatened by women who disrupt the status quo and women who never explore their limitless potential. So, let Sally have the football along with her Easy Bake oven because society’s idea of what young girls are allowed to enjoy and excel at is skewed and needs a proverbial ‘makeover.’

Just this year I watched Ronda Rousey destroy yet another opponent to win her 11th fight in a row. Her performance of late has been so dominating that Dana White went on to compare her to Mike Tyson and note that “she is without a doubt, the female of him.”

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White genuinely meant that as a compliment. But the idea that we have to compare Roussey to Mike Tyson is not only a backwards compliment but also erases her lived experience as woman who also is an exceptional athlete. Not to mention, it downplays the general awesome-ness of Women’s Mixed Martial Art. Why can’t Rousey just be Rousey? You know, a kick-ass athlete with two X chromosomes. Rousey the first of her kind in the UFC and she’s going to pave the way for women for years to come. Let them have what’s theirs, let them idolize her for her achievements rather than letting every up and coming female mixed martial artist know that you can be as good as ” that guy.”

 * steps down from podium of the feminist convention and gets niece ready to go to soccer practice this summer*

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Workout Wednesday, Vol. 1, Issue 3

This week’s workout Wednesday highlights some of the best workouts you can do to strengthen your core and create defined abdominal muscles.

 Now,  I don’t believe in ‘Microwave Abs (as in ” do this and presto;  a 6-pack!).”

I’m more of the “with proper nutrition and fitness you can develop that 6-pack ” sort.   I’ll say it again; the road to the perfect stomach is paved by

1. Lowering  body fat to the point at which your abs will be visible;

2. Incorporating abdominal workouts will help bring the ” abs” out.

You need both to see results.  The point of these workouts is to strengthen your core which, in turn will increase workout ability, thus allowing you to achieve your fitness goals quickly.

 Caveats aside, check out today’s workout video and once you’re done, try 25 reps of each exercise yourself!

#ThankMeLater

NCAA: Play for Pay

Picture it; 100,000 people in the stands, millions of viewers at home. Your season’s future is on the line and NBD, but this is implicitly a job interview.

Can you see it?

680-michigan-stadium-ann-arbor-michigan-27-aug-14

Good.

Now, picture this is all happening on a Saturday, the day after the midterm you took on you took Friday (but crammed all night for on Thursday) and the presentation you have to deliver in class on Monday at 8am. This is college football (CFB); six months of trying to be a full-time god of the gridiron while also trying to be a full-time (and successful) student. Over the last couple years, CFB has grown exponentially and by extension, so has the money it generates. As a result, some wonder why students aren’t receiving compensation for their work. Sure, it’s a business (and a profitable one at that), but money isn’t the only form of compensation. So, who says these students aren’t getting paid? And, honestly; who says they should be getting paid, anyway?

As a long-time college football fan, I’ve observed that what separates this sport from any other is the passion it creates. Whether it’s the tens of thousands of fans pulsating with energy in stands or the young men morphing into elite athletes (and hopefully, sports idols) when it comes to college football—Ball is Life.

San Diego State v North Carolina

The players love it; they’d do it for free, so why should they be paid? Here’s the thing–just down the road from UNC’s Tar Heels, I’m pretty sure there’s a high school football team that also garners sponsors, televises games, and prices tickets to their games. So, who’s advocating that we cut a check for that gifted high school senior quarterback? Most say ‘Why would we pay him? He’s a kid!’

That’s fair. But the difference between the high school senior version of him and the college freshman one is matter of three months. If he was a kid in May, he’ll still be a kid in September. Although the game is a business, it revolves around young, developing people. If you start to pay that young man, you’ve turned someone that loved the game into an employee, who needs a team of agents and financial advisors surrounding him and his ‘brand.’ These are still kids and some things should remain unsullied. Don’t rush to snatch their innocence way so quickly.

CFB generates millions of dollars every season through advertisements, telecasts, and championship games. It is emphatically a business and that’s emphatically why the players signed up. Yes, it’s true, many have made mention of the fact that the players don’t have petty cash, often struggle with meals and the stringent parameters placed on their time. But, so does the kid going to school on an academic scholarship. Being on the struggle bus in the college is kind of…the point of college. It’s not a story unique to the student athlete. The player and his family knew that college was expensive when they made the decision to let him play. This is not a bait-and-switch. Why cast blame on the institution now?

You could look at it like slave labor, or you could look at it like this; an athletically gift kid hailing from what is most likely an underprivileged background gets the chance of a lifetime (literally—only ~3 percent of high school students will ever be in his shoes) to attend a prestigious school, get an exemplary education and interview for a dream job with National Football League. For free. In response, the public rages:

‘Why are they not paid for the fact that they are on television?!

(You mean, the telecasts that help them become well known?)

‘Why aren’t they being paid for the money football generates for the school?!’

(You mean, the money that goes to the athletic department which in turn covers expenses, player insurance, facility, grants and yes, scholarships?)

Student athletes don’t have it easy when it comes to studying and having practice/film/weight training for 80 percent of the day. Not that the school is advising them to do much else on campus beside live the ‘Ball is Life’ mantra. You know what 2003 Rose Bowl Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett’s major was in school? Floral Design. Clearly school was not the why he was here.

Now, who is to blame for that? I know who, and it’s not the school. Players that have an opportunity to go to a prestigious learning institution but leave feeling exploited, undervalued and undereducated have no one to blame but themselves and their families. As a matter of science, the human brain does not reach maturity until the mid-twenties. And the very last thing develops is the frontal cortex—you know, the place you use to make decisions. That’s why younger brains are in the care of older ones, or parents, who make good decisions. Or least, they should. I couldn’t fathom my parents allowing me to major in ballroom dancing like USC’s Matt Linehart did in 2005…unless, they were waiting for the same NFL millions as I. As a student athlete, you have to evaluate your chances rationally and begin to make decisions which will impact the rest of your life. Only 6 percent of student athletes actually make it to the big leagues. Once a player realizes that they are not part of that tiny sliver of lucky and gifted humans, doing anything other than making the best of their time at school (for example, focusing on a potentially marketable or profitable major) seems like the definition of insanity.

2004-graduating-seniors

I don’t bring this post to the forefront without also looking at alternatives to this situation. I grew up wanting to play for the University of Miami and get drafted by the Packers like most of these guys and I understand that four years on college is taxing when you don’t have spending money, and feel under appreciated. The NCAA sells the football jerseys of these players and other memorabilia which can help generate money to the school. I believe that all athletes who have a jersey in the market should receive some form of compensation upon completion of college career along with the idea that students should have a percentage of the revenue bought in to the school off the backs from a game they built upon the completion of their collegiate tenure.

YOUR NEXT REP: Follow me on Twitter and IG  and feel free to share and comment.  All workout (and thought) partners are welcome!

In the NYC area and interested in improving your fitness level? Let’s get started!