Live From Fitbloggin – It's Friday Night

Hey All! I made it to Baltimore for Fitbloggin! Scott is here with me which is so awesome – kind of like a mini-break sans kids. The weather here is fantastic – 70-75 degrees and sunny all weekend. That’s warmer than it was in Orlando when I was there 2 weeks ago! I was so excited by the warm weather, that as soon as we checked into the hotel we went for a walk around the harbor area.

We stopped off at a restaurant on the water for some fruity drinks (ok, I had the fruity drink 😉 ) – a mango-pineapple smoothie…

We also had a few “snacks” for lunch, including a small Greek salad, cheese quesadillas, and cheese stuffed mushrooms…

We continued to walk all around the harbor and just soaked in the gorgeous day. Then, it was time to head back for the first Fitbloggin event – the POMtini cocktail reception. Even though we arrived about an hour late for the reception, there were still so many bloggers (yes, mostly women) there and plenty of martinis too! I’m not a huge pomegranate fan, but the martini was actually very good.

Next, it was off to dinner in Little Italy at Cafe Gia…

Cafe Gia serves old school Italian food. The building looks a little shady, but the inside decor has a lot of character. The “boss”, an older Italian woman, was completely charming to all the customers, including us. She was very sweet, but looked so tired – obviously working too hard 🙁

Seeing as it was a Friday during lent, I was limited on what I could order – so it was the Penne Primavera for me. The pasta was good, but nothing spectacular. But, there were many other chicken and meat dishes on the menu that sounded really good – guess I’ll have to head back there sometime to try them!

Ok, time to hit the sack. The 5K run around the harbor is going to come awfully early – 6:30 AM (but that’s 5:30 AM Chicago time).

Have a great night everyone, especially all of the Fitbloggin ladies (and the 3-4 gents that I saw) 🙂

Starbucks and Fitbloggin: Who's Ready?

Hello All and Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Although I have kissed the actual Blarney Stone in Ireland (said to give the kisser the gift of gab), I am far from being chatty tonight so I will let my cupcake friend say it all…

I’ve had a busy day at work and at home. At this point, I’m ready to crash on my bed right in the middle of all of my clothes for Fitbloggin that I still need to pack. Speaking of packing, I am sooo happy someone invented packing cubes – packing cubes are absolute genius! It must have been a woman who invented them, ‘cuz Lord knows that women appreciate anything that can make packing easier.

For anyone going to Fitbloggin, the closest Starbucks is .1 miles away from the Marriott. I predict that is going to be one busy Starbucks this weekend!

Ok, gotta run. See you on the flip side.

Desserts and Dreams, Disney Style

Hey All! As most of you know, I was at Disney World all last week on vacation. Scott and I have been to Disney several times together – after all , we met at Disney while working there so it’s kind of nostalgic for us. On most of our previous trips, we’ve stayed at Disney’s “deluxe” resorts, but this time, we decided to give one of Disney’s moderate resorts a try. We stayed at the moderate for less than 24 hours, then – by a strange twist of fate, we found ourselves staying at Disney’s flagship resort – the Grand Floridian – for the remainder of our stay.

The Grand Floridan is a Victorian-themed hotel (think My Fair Lady or Mary Poppins) with beautiful landscaping and an amazing lobby. Upgrading resorts took us from a room of 315 sq ft. to a room of 460 sq ft with a balcony and view of Cinderella’s Castle. As you can imagine, from the time we checked into our “new” room, we had the most amazing and magical time – a dream come true.

Even though the weather was in the 60s practically the entire time, we made it to the parks 5 of the 7 days we were there. The kids loved exploring the parks, riding the rides, and meeting all of the characters…

I loved all of those things as well, but I also loved being pampered by the hotel and, specifically, the amazing housekeeping staff. It was so nice to come back to a relaxing, luxurious room every night, not to mention a few Belgian chocolates on the pillow…

As I mentioned in a previous post, we decided to try the Disney Dining Plan for the first time. I wasn’t super thrilled with the plan – to put it bluntly – no one really goes to Disney for the food. And, coming from Chicago – a city of amazing food – Disney has never really impressed me with its culinary offerings. However, I enjoyed the daily desserts that were included on our plan – 2 desserts a day to be exact!

Instead of giving you a long review of ALL of the food I ate while on vacation (no entrees really stand out), I’m going to take you through some of the wonderful desserts that crossed my path and my lips 🙂

Early on in on in our stay, we ate at Le Cellier in Epcot where I ordered the maple creme brule – it was fabulous, and that is saying a LOT coming from a person who doesn’t really like creme brule. Next up, the kids and I split a giant cupcake (it’s not vacation without a cupcake!) made of chocolate cake and frosted with creamy white frosting coated with crushed butterfingers…

Again, this dessert/snack was fantastic, although I had major cupcake remorse after eating it!

Finally, on our last night there, we ate at Le Cellier again at which point I ordered the s’mores dessert, which was a concoction of graham cracker and chocolate cookies that sandwiched vanilla ice cream, all topped with two candy-covered marshmallows. OMG – I can’t believe I ate this whole thing!!

For those of you who are wondering, I did run four days while I was there and walked a TON of course. Somehow, I still managed to gain two pounds – can’t imagine how 😉

Now, it’s back on track for the next two weeks – Fitbloggin here we come!

Engrossed in the World

Hey everyone! Just a quick note to let you all know that I have not dropped off the face of the Earth. In fact, I’ve actually been engrossed in the world – Disney World that is! I won’t give all the details of my culinary adventures in Mouseland now, but take a look at what I’ve been enjoying for the last week…

Yes, it DID taste as good as it looks! This was by far, the best dessert I had all week – and believe me, I had several to compare this to.

OK, off to bed for me = stay tuned for more pics in the next few posts.

Avoid Weight Gain While Traveling

Today, I booked yet another business trip. This time, I’ll be headed to Orlando in April for a continuing education conference. Finally – a business trip where I don’t actually have to work! If all goes as planned, I will have logged at least 8 business trips this year.

Although traveling for business can get old, one thing I do enjoy is eating at new, fun restaurants in each city I stop in.  This is a great way to explore the city and new foods at the same time. But, it can also be very, very dangerous for your waistline. When you’re out of town on business, you have no choice but eat outside the home. Hopefully, you have good luck in your restaurant choices, but sometimes you’re at the mercy of airport food and ya all know how I feel about that!! Plus, it is very easy to overeat while on business. Most business events are centered around food and drinks and plenty of both! If you don’t pace yourself or know when to stop eating, you’re likely to put on a few pounds by the end of your trip – and all for the sake of your job!

10 Strategies for Healthy Eating During Business Travel

In all of my years of traveling for business and eating at many, many business lunches and dinners, I’ve developed a few strategies that help me eat less and make better choices about what I eat. Although I do not follow these tips religiously, I find that they’ve become almost second nature when order food at restaurants.

  1. Eat an appetizer or small plate – Before ordering, I peruse the appetizer or small plates section. If there’s something tasty in that section, I’ll order one or two smaller dishes as a main meal. And, because they are served more like appetizers (bite size/finger foods), I usually end up sharing them with the table, which means I eat even less.
  2. Order a salad or soup to start – If I am really hungry when I sit down to eat, I’ll order a small, simple salad with a vinegar dressing or a minestrone/broth soup. I find that this takes the edge off of my hunger and prevents me from eating the whole bread basket (although I have done that in the past – ouch!)
  3. Beware the bottomless bread basket – As I mentioned in #2, I have been known to eat more than my share of bread or tortilla chips. This would usually leave me too full to eat a significant portion of my entree. This may sound like I’m balancing calories, but it’s definitely not balancing nutrition. It’s much better nutrition-wise to eat your entree (provided it’s a healthy one) than eating 7 pieces of bread.
  4. Limit alcohol or other calorie-laden drinks – I don’t drink a lot of alcohol to begin with but when I do, I limit my intake to 1 or 2 drinks max. I would much rather save my calories for dessert and sip on ice cold water or a calorie free drink with my meal.
  5. Split an entree – On a business trip, splitting a meal can be difficult. Although, in the last year, I have done this a few times with close colleagues. Even my boss – a man – has been known to split restaurant food – but it’s usually dessert!
  6. Pretend you’re at home – Before you order and especially before you eat, think What would I eat if I was at home? or How much would I eat if I was at home? For instance, would you really eat a pound of spaghetti bolognese after eating calamari and a salad? Maybe, maybe not. At home, would you really make yourself a greasy egg McMuffin-like breakfast sandwich? Probably not, so why would you order it at the airport? Even the worst airports have yogurt, fruit, and cereal.
  7. Plan your calories – If I know that my colleagues and I are going out to a big, fancy dinner with drinks, I’ll eat a bigger breakfast – like yogurt with nuts, fruit, and maybe some toast. Then, I eat lighter at lunch – a cup of soup or a 1/2 sandwich. This leaves plenty of room and calorie cushion for dinner on the town. 
  8. Don’t follow the table – Just because everyone else is ordering multiple drinks, appetizers, and a filet with a baked potato does not mean I have to. I’d much rather feel good about what I’m eating (and not feel bloated/stuffed) than feel like I have to match my colleagues’ ordering and eating habits.
  9. Excuse yourself – By getting up during the meal, your body has time to adjust to the food you’ve eaten and decide if it still needs to eat more. Also, if I’m out to eat with a big group and am tempted by the food a the table, I will excuse myself once or twice to go to the bathroom or to make a phone call. This gives the food on the table enough time to disappear. This could also work during dessert – when the server comes around to take dessert orders, quietly tell the person next to you that you need to make a quick call and that you don’t need anything for dessert. While everyone else is pressuring his/her neighbor to order a dessert (because who really wants to be the only one ordering a dessert?), you will be away from the table and the peer pressure.
  10. Remember, it’s not your last meal – Even if you do end up ordering more food than you’d normally eat at one sitting, it does NOT mean that you have to eat it all. This is not your last meal so don’t act like it by stuffing yourself.

These strategies don’t just work for business trips, but for eating at restaurants in general. I hope to put all (or at least some!) of these strategies into practice during our upcoming trip to Disney World. Wish me luck!

Happy, Healthy Travels Everyone!

Today's Rant: Unhealthy Airport Food

I’m back from DC and pretty darn tired – blah! I’m actually feeling pretty “fat” right now too, considering I sat in a meeting for most of the day and then sat on the plane coming home. I am so looking forward to my run tomorrow morning. 

OK, now for an airport/travel RANT…

Why is it that Washington Reagan Airport – I’m sure one of the busiest airports in the US – has such terrible food options???? Maybe it was just the terminal/wing I was in, but I seriously had 4 options for quick-service food, and only one that I would even consider as edible (Potbelly). Plus, no Starbucks in site after you pass through security. Sure, there was a Starbucks before going through security, but I would have had to chug my drink or throw it out before going through – what gives DC??

O’Hare – you have set the bar so high that I’m spoiled for life.

That’s all I got. Until tomorrow….

Washington, DC: Congress, Coffee, and Cupcakes

Hey all!

I’m blogging from Washington, DC! Before landing, I enjoyed my go-to airport breakfast nourishment….

This was actually a combination of breakfast and lunch. The  yogurt cup is actually a pretty healthy choice as far as airport food goes. 

Upon arriving at the DC hotel, I was overwhelmed at how many “suits” were in the hotel lobby. I actually felt quite out of place in my jeans, so I hustled up to my room without looking at anyone. But then, I decided to venture off for a little 30-minute walk to find my next cupcake destination…Red Velvet Cupcakery

Don’t let the plain jane box fool you. Because when you opened it, there were these two lovelies inside…

My signature cupcake, the Red Velvet, and the Lemon Coconut cupcake. Hmm…so yummy! And, I would know because I ate both of them while sitting in my hotel room working. That’s what happens when I don’t eat a real lunch. Plus, on the way back from the cupcake shop, I stopped off to pick up a skim mocha…

This, unfortunately was NOT very good. It had a funky taste so I drank about 1/3 of it and thew the rest out. Blah! But hey, I didn’t have to pay for it!

Now, I’m off to meet my friend Prachi for dinner! I’ll be back later to fill you in on our dinner escapades!

From Snow to Sun in 3 Hours

Hello everyone!

Well, I’m here in sunny Scottsdale! I guess it’s not really sunny right now but it was definitely sunny when I landed at the Phoenix airport earlier today. Anything is better than the 20 degrees and 8 inches of snow I left in Chicago! It’s amazing that in just 3 hours, I went from SNOW to complete SUN – and 70 degree weather.

I’m here in Arizona for the first of 5 meetings that I will be attending in the next 5 months (all in different locations). I’m so busy that I will most likely NOT get to enjoy the gorgeous weather 🙁 But, I did manage to snag one of these babies from the pool bar…

1.8.10 banana mango smoothie

As you can tell, I didn’t waste any time sucking down this banana mango smoothie. It tasted soooo good but I’m sure it was loaded with calories from all of the sugar. Oh well, I just off set the calories by having something very healthy at lunch…

1.8.10 grilled chicken salad

A fantastic dinner salad with hearts of palm and grilled chicken – OMG – it tasted soo good. That is where my healthy eating stopped for the day. I won’t get into details on dinner/snacks, but let’s just say that it was a two dessert kind of a night! 

I wasn’t able to fit my running shoes or workout clothes in my VERY small carry on (good thing I ran before I left this morning!), but I’m hoping to get up early tomorrow and walk around the resort for a bit before my meeting. Oh yeah, there’s a Starbucks just up the road – a perfect walking destination! And, actually buying a Starbucks wouldn’t even break my restaurant diet rule because my company is buying – woo hoo! I can see a tall skinny mocha in my very near future….

Night all 😉