Need Motivation? The Missing Ingredient in Your Healthstyle Journey

by | Oct 8, 2014

Photo by JD Hancock

When I was a kid there were few words I dreaded more than “The Mile.” Once a quarter our teachers would drag us out to the field and make us all run four laps around the track.

I hated The Mile for so many reasons. It hurt my legs, my lungs, and I’d get this crippling cramp in my side. And I was ALWAYS the last to finish, dragging myself across the finish line after the 15 minute mark. It was the worst.

I used to think there were two kinds of people in the world. Those who loved running and sports, and those who would be happy to never lace a pair of sneakers again. I was more than happy to spend the entirety of my life in the latter group, chilling on the sidelines cheering on the bizarrely energetic athletes.

Fast forward 20 years and I consider my workouts one of the most precious and essential parts of my day. I love lifting weights, maximizing my heart rate, and pushing myself to new physical limits.

What caused me to change teams? Did I just wake up one morning and decide to like the gym? Of course I would have loved that, but it isn’t what happened.

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The Heartbreaking Story of the Joyless Splurge

by | Oct 6, 2014

Photo by Kalexanderson

Back in the early 90s I was offered a choice. Actually that isn’t quite right, because at the time it didn’t feel like a choice.

At an age when I was way too young to be thinking about these things there seemed to be two paths I could follow. One promised beauty, confidence and happiness. The other seemed boring, average and all around disappointing. Without hesitating, I swallowed the blue pill.

From the outside the dieting path seemed so glamorous. With my natural inclination toward perfectionism, the most seductive illusion––and the one that’s been hardest to break––was that of control. The myth I believed was that if I could restrict my eating enough, then I could control my weight and appearance. The confidence and happiness I envisioned stemmed directly from this control.

The sad irony is that dieting does the opposite of what I believed, and in fact robbed me of control. As humans we are not hardwired to withstand indefinite restriction and deprivation, particularly when it comes to food. The more we try to restrict and deprive ourselves of the things we crave, the harder it gets to hold onto the reigns.

But that doesn’t stop us from trying. For the truly dedicated dieters who still believe restriction offers control, we dig our heels in deeper and hold on with all our might. This manifests as some terribly odd behavior, like bingeing on foods we don’t really like.

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For the Love of Food

by | Oct 3, 2014
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week learn what’s really stopping you from changing your habits, good reasons to eat mindLESSly, and how attitude impacts exercise.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (Yes, I took that picture of the pepper heart myself.)
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Foodist Approved: Butter Sage Fish en Papillote

by | Oct 1, 2014
lemon sage fish en papillote

lemon sage fish en papillote

During my time living abroad in Switzerland, I discovered a crafty way to bake fish in the oven and it’s now become my laid back, go-to method. I love that “Butter Sage Salmon en Papillote” sounds so fancy-schmancy, yet to make it is so simple and foolproof.

The technique of baking fish “en papillote” literally means “in parchment paper,” and is a method of cooking food in a sealed packet so the food steams in its own juices. This prevents fish fillets from drying out (guilty here of trying to revive too many overcooked wild salmon fillets by dousing them in a sauce) and as an added bonus leads to an easy cleanup. No more stinking up your kitchen (sorry honey!) by leaving casserole dishes stuck hopelessly with burnt scales soaking overnight.

Make your own little packets, fill with your favorite fish, top with a little butter and sage, serve with a side of roasted veggies, light a candle and prepare to impress your guest of honor.

This recipe works fabulous with just about any type of seafood. To select a sustainable option free of contaminants, I highly recommend downloading the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guide.
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The Worst Thing You Can Do if You’re Trying to Lose Weight

by | Sep 29, 2014

beauty pageant

I have always had tremendous pride in everything I do. If something has my name on it, I go the extra mile (or 10 miles if necessary) to make it excellent. Even the thought of sending an unedited email or a sloppy text message makes me cringe.

Call it pride, call it self-respect. Whatever it is, I was born with it. My dad always tells me about how he and my mom would spy on me in my crib practicing the alphabet or reciting days of the week. But as soon as I knew they were there I’d stop and wouldn’t show them what I was working on. I wanted to make sure I had it right before anyone could see. I did this in my crib.

Naturally I had a similar pride about my appearance. Sadly, women in this country are taught at a young age that we will be judged (harshly) by how we look. I saw it in my own family as my aunts gossiped about each other’s “Pino thighs,” at school where overweight children were teased and tormented, and on TV where thin, beautiful women got all the attention.

Although I could write a book on how despicable this is, it isn’t realistic to believe our value system is going to change anytime soon. Instead, today I want to focus on one of the consequences of this mindset and what we can do to combat the negative impact it has on our behavior.

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For the Love of Food

by | Sep 26, 2014
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week sitting less reverses aging, the evil cousin of procrastination, and shocking new data about sugar and dental health.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300 wpm. So neat! It’s been only one week and I’m already up to 400 wpm.

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (Yes, I took that picture of the pepper heart myself.)
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Sugar’s Sweet Spot: How to Eat Less Without Saying No

by | Sep 24, 2014

Photo by pamlau.com

Recently I explained how restrictive dieting makes losing weight harder than it needs to be, not easier. But one reader wondered how my advice about limiting sugar and processed foods jives with this concept:

You say that mainstream diets encourage nutritionism and cut out groups of food like fat, gluten and sugar. However, much of what you discuss also encourages limiting sugar. How do you differentiate the two?

Am I hypocrite or trying to pull a fast one? Is this just a matter of semantics? As usual in biology, the truth is more complicated.

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How I (FINALLY) Cleared My Skin of Acne

by | Sep 22, 2014
Me in Kauai three weeks ago, no makeup

Me in Kauai three weeks ago, no makeup

I thought I was one of the lucky ones. While I certainly had my fair share of awkwardness during middle school and high school, bad skin wasn’t a problem for me. I assumed I was just genetically blessed in that regard––my mom’s Mexican heritage awarded her flawless skin––and so I focused my attention on studying and dieting my way out of the rest of my problems. Oh the joys of being a teenager.

It wasn’t until I got to college that my skin changed. Within just a few months of arriving at Berkeley I developed deep, cystic acne on my chin and around my jaw line. The blemishes were incredibly painful, not to mention embarrassing. I tried every over-the-counter remedy I could find, to no avail. The teasing and chastising I got from my family that Christmas was relentless.
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For the Love of Food

by | Sep 19, 2014
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Shockingly good, life-changing reading this week. Learn how to build stronger willpower, no-brain cancer prevention, and the secret to life-long happiness.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300 wpm. So neat!

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (Yes, I took that picture of the pepper heart myself.)
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Foodist Approved: Gluten-Free Maple Zucchini Nut Muffins

by | Sep 17, 2014
maple zucchini nut muffins

maple zucchini nut muffins

I typically don’t condone eating muffins for breakfast since they’re usually just a minuscule step up from a cupcake. Even the wannabe bran muffin is loaded with sugar and unhealthy oils, and will leave you feeling drained and hungry with lunch still hours away. But the illustrious muffin is a convenient food for busy mornings when you just need something to grab, so I set out to create a Foodist-approved muffin recipe.

The winner of my muffin escapades in the kitchen were these Maple Zucchini Nut Muffins. They’re the perfect balance of hearty and healthy. My zucchini muffins are free of refined sugars and flours (the gluten-free crowd will love ‘em!) and are loaded with protein and healthy fat from the nuts, oats, flax, eggs and organic butter.

Best part—counts as eating veggies for breakfast!
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