Oh, Snap: Comfort Food

How many times have you heard the following from friends, family and your partner: the way to my heart is through my stomach.  But did you know that their statement actually holds weight? One thing that I didn’t know until I read a fascinating book on Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman is that not only are there a significant amount of serotonin receptors in our stomach, but most of the serotonin we posses is manufactured there!  Lining the walls of both the intestines and digestive track are loads of enterochromaffin cells and these little guys are responsible for creating a whopping 90% of it.

I’ve always landed firmly on the taller side of life.  When I was born I was 19″ and a tad under 6lbs – leaving me pretty tall and lean on the BMI chart.  Growing up, not a whole hell of a lot changed – by 4th grade, I was taller than all my gymnastics instructors and realized that was definitely not my calling.  By 6th grade, I was 6’0 and had stopped growing – but when it came to filling out, I didn’t. My metabolism is somehow quicker than my mouth and no matter what I ate, or how (in)frequently I seemed to hit the gym – gaining weight has never been my strong suit, especially after I stopped playing competitive sports.

I never intended to be a foodie. In fact, I know a considerable amount of people – including my family – who  consider my love of cooking, nomgasms or food porn absolutely ludicrous.  It’s not that I’ve found food repulsive or I hate eating – it’s merely the fact that ever since I can remember – food and I have had a fairly indifferent relationship with each other.  I used to find myself going throughout the majority of the day without a meal; granted, I was grumpy, fatigued and not exactly pleasant to be around but at the time I attributed that to having high anxiety or being diagnosed with depression.

Thankfully, I have a support system that both lifts me up and fills my stomach –  they’ve taught me that comfort food has a purpose and a nourished stomach is a nourished soul.  I’ve found that one of the most important things about food, fitness and nutrition is to have both a routine and a goal; one without the other is slightly pointless.  I’ve gone from bypassing lunch to scouring the dessert bar, from breakfast on the go to breakfast in the apt – and it’s really made all the difference.  For the first time in my adult life, I can honestly say that I love food and thanks to living in Los Angeles, I’ve had the chance to experience so many different restaurants, as well as almost any type of food you can imagine!  I’ve slowly but surely been collecting a list of my favorite noms and I’m stoked to be able to share this with everyone =)

 

Loaded Mac & Cheese from Elephant Bar

Bacon wrapped asparagus from Sushi USA

Uni – my ultimate.

Basil, tomato and mozzarella skewers; made fresh by yours truly!

Shrimp, avocado, tangello, cucumber and tomato salad. Also known as veggies that are really fruits.

Drumstick ice cream cones; omnom!

If you’ve never had Calypso Lemonade you’re in for a real treat =D

Only the best for my sweet tooth – Sour Patch Berry Kids and Mike & Ike Tropical Typhoon!

Macadamia, raspberry pancakes – proof the best recipes are still in your head =)

Mango & Sticky Rice!

Potstickers: I could survive off these.

Mango & Vanilla Creme Puffs from Beard Papas; only the best!

Can’t go wrong with a Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup!

Steak, medium rare. Always.

I ❤ Sushi.

BTA Benedict from Tart – my breakfast standard.

Waffles Versaille from the French Crepe Company at the Grove

Dim Sum @ Bao

My Step-Mom’s Pumpkin Pie

Doing it Right: The Electric Run

When it comes to running, let me be the first to tell you that it’s neither my forte nor something I’ve been interested in for very long. I grew up playing basketball, volleyball and swimming – nothing that required running long distances or for extended periods of time.  But then, last spring – something weird happened:  my tried and true GTI 1.8T decided to have a crisis of faith and stop working.  Transitioning to bipedalism wasn’t the biggest issue in the world; when I moved into my apartment last year, one of the first things I looked up was the “walk-ability” of the neighborhood and was pleasantly surprised that the area had a score of 91 out of 100 – meaning daily errands don’t require a car.  Instead of driving to get produce or supplies for the apartment, I was walking here there and everywhere; except for one minor detail – the gym.  Not being a runner, I was at a loss for a few days…I would run the stairs in the apartment, go for long walks or do some yoga; unfortunately for me, it just wasn’t the same.  So, I did the unthinkable: I started running.

Electric Run LocationsI started slow and steady by running a bit then walking it off; slowly, I worked up to changing the ratio – running for a mile, walking a few blocks, then running another mile.  And then the strangest thing happened – I started falling in love with the balance of breath and movement, grace and growth.  I didn’t have an end goal when I started, but through social media channels I found out about something fabulous called the Electric Run – a 5Kfunrun that’s best described as the illegitimate child of a rave and a half marathon; and to boot, the inaugural one was essentially going to be in my backyard – Orange County.

https://i0.wp.com/electricrun.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/ocm.jpg

Over 10,000 people signed up to be part of this ridiculously fun – and incredibly well run – event.  The premise was that the entire 5K course was adorned with lights, lasers and speakers blasting some of the best EDM currently around while participants decked out in their favorite glow and neon outfits frolicked around the track.  There were families and there were rambunctious teenagers; there were people determined to run their hearts out and others who just wanted to take it in and dance.  Before the run, we were all handed an official T-Shirt and some glow gear of our very own – and others dressed to the 9’s in LEDs, EL-wire and their very own outfit creations (we even saw a ‘ma5 head!).  Employees of the Electric Run were scattered around with cups of water and high fives of encouragement and at the finish line we were showered with granola bars, cheap shots of whiskey and a live performance from DJ’s Sultan and Ned Shepherd.  You were basically welcome to enjoy the intersection of exercise and playtime anytime you wanted. I had an absolute blast running around with my friends and taking it all in – if the Electric Run comes to your city, hop on it like it’s your job!

Sprinting to the end…

Sultan & Ned Shepherd

Workout Wednesday: Putting a Cramp in your Style

I think each of us has been here before:

It’s been a while since you’ve worked out, but your playlists are updated and your gym clothes are ready to rock.  You eagerly drink some water, jump into your running shoes, suit your earbuds up real nice and head out the door.  When you hit the sidewalk, your legs begin bouncing – urging you to move forward.  As your iPod shuffles to your latest favorite song, you break into a skip, then a jog…and finally a run.  You’re feeling your energy as your feet hit the pavement, you might even be singing along without realizing it – and then you notice it, a stitch in your (insert appendage here).  Then it cripples you – and you’re left wondering: what is wrong with my body?!

Well the answer, my pretties – is that your workout just got cramped. As an athlete, I can tell you from a lot of personal experience that there’s nothing worse than getting into the groove of a good workout and getting sidelined by a cramp.  In the back of my head, I’m thinking – hey, body! why are you acting like its your first rodeo?!  But the fact of the matter is that no matter if you’re a world class athlete or about to commit to your first workout – cramps happen, but you can help!

The most common cramps for me are side cramps while running, foot cramps as a swimmer and calf cramps after a workout or a long night of dancing.  So what exactly is going on and what can we do if we want to keep the workout going?

Make sure you’re warming up properly and breathing right during the exercise.  If you’re planning on going for an epic run, try walking or jogging to warm up your entire body and make sure your body is hydrated enough to sustain the ass kicking you’re giving it.  If you notice a cramp coming on, try to even out your breathing and avoid exhaling when your feet hit the floor, if it won’t go away give yourself a break and get into some stretches.  Your body is a temple, you don’t want to destroy the foundation.

On the typical, cramps have one of two causes –  dehydration or poor nutrition. 

Think about things this way – your body is approximately 80% water but your muscles are closer to 75%; so when you work out, your muscles get dehydrated faster than your body.  When this happens, the muscles lose elasticity, become taut and eventually – if not re-hydrated – they’ll spasm, or cramp. The other possibility is that  your body is lacking in essential vitamins like iron, calcium and potassium, which is key for preventing muscle cramps.

Lucky for us, these are things we can control.  At the very least, on the daily you should pop a multivitamin in the morning and get your 8 glasses of water. In this “go-go-go” world, it’s hard to avoid caffeine and soda. However, if you’re serious about treating your body well – either curb your use of diuretics like coffee, soda, alcohol and energy drinks which naturally deplete your body of water, or for every “naughty” drink have double the amount of aqua.  When it comes to nutrition, an apple a day might keep the doctor away but a dose of potassium a day will keep the cramps away.  Dried fruits like apricots, prunes, dates, coconuts, figs and raisins contain a whole lot of it. And for the fresh fruit lovers, try throwing more avocados, bananas, peaches and oranges in your diet.