Stress and the Red Velvet Cupcake

Hey All – We had a bit of a shake-up today at work. There’s a ton of restructuring going on – not sure yet how it will pan out for me. I’m really hoping the changes are good for the organization, but for me especially.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

I was rather stressed the whole day – so stressed my stomach hurt. After an 1 1/2 lunch – which was basically a dazed and confused venting-fest, I decided to indulge in a Red Velvet cupcake. Obviously, stress eating – especially when it includes unhealthy food – is not a good idea. But today I let me good judgement slide in the food department. I’m glad the cupcake was on the small side.

Anyway, I’m off to do more work tonight. See you all sometime tomorrow.

Got Stress? Eat This.

We all have our stressful times of the year. You may have stress associated with an annual project at work, final exams, planning a wedding, or the holiday season. While most of these stressors are short-lived, some people are prone to stress more consistently throughout the year.

I know that when I’m stressed I tend to do one of two things:

  1. Eat bad food
  2. Spend money

Both of these reactions to stress can leave me feeling even more stressed in the end – eating bad food makes us feel bad eventually and spending lots of money, although a temporary mood booster, may leave us with buyer’s remorse. If you’re like me and find yourself eating and shopping in times of stress, it may be time to take action.

Pencil erasing the word "stress"

I came across a recent article in Woman’s Day magazine about foods that help you fight stress. I don’t normally read Woman’s Day, online or in print, but the title intrigued me. What should I be eating to reduce stress? I wondered. Before I get to this, let’s look at the culprit itself – STRESS!

According to the Mayo Clinic Web site, stress is the  normal psychological and physical reaction to the demands of daily life. When we’re stressed, our bodies release two hormones:

  • Adrenaline – a hormone that increases our heart rate and blood pressure, and boosts our energy.
  • Cortisol – the primary stress hormone. It increases sugars in the blood stream, alters immune system responses, and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system, and growth processes. Research suggests that cortisol directly influences food consumption, stimulating a person to eat food that is high in fat and/or sugar.

So, if we are naturally conditioned to eat when we are stressed, why not eat something healthy? Makes sense, right?

Thank goodness Woman’s Day has identified 8 mood-boosting foods that are not only healthy but can help us lower our overall anxiety. Let’s take a look at the top stress-fighting foods:

8 Foods to Help Fight Stress

(adapted from Woman’s Day)

  1. Dark Chocolate – Dark chocolate is high in the flavonoids, which are known for their relaxing properties. And, the darker chocolate, the better – aim for 70% cacao or higher.
  2. Skim Milk – Studies have shown that women who drink four or more glass of milk a day are less likely to experience stress than those who don’t.
  3. Oatmeal – This should be an easy one for all you food bloggers out there! As mentioned above, when we’re stressed, we crave carbs. You can indulge these carb cravings with healthy carbs like oatmeal, which is high in fiber and keeps you feeling full longer.
  4. Salmon – Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, help reverse stress by boosting serotonin levels. An omega-3 rich diet may also help suppress cortisol and adrenaline production.
  5. Walnuts – As we all know, stress can have a significant impact on our blood pressure. Walnuts help keep our blood press in check.
  6. Sunflower Seeds – These folate-rich seeds help the body produce dopamine, a pleasure-inducing chemical in the brain.
  7. Spinach – This leafy green is high in magnesium which helps to improve the body’s response to stress.
  8. Blueberries – These little berries pack a huge punch with all of their antioxidants, which counteract the effects of stress hormones.

Although there’s no proof that combining all of these foods in one sitting will make you a stress-fighting superhero, combining these foods may make it a littler easier to get your stress-free food fix throughout the day. But, if you are really feeling stressed – you could always try this super-charged, stress-reducing breakfast:

Stress-Free Breakfast: Steel-cut oats made with skim milk, topped with blueberries, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and dark chocolate chips – oh yeah, and don’t forget the spinach wrapped salmon on the side!

Stress Eating

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was working on a huge proposal that, if signed/passed, would leave me with more responsibility and possibly a promotion. Well, since that time, the proposal has gone through several revisions, particularly to the budget.

After all of this waiting – which has actually been over a year – we are having what may be our final call about the proposal tomorrow. This means, we may find out as soon as tomorrow whether or not we have our new “big project” to take on. I will be very disappointed if we don’t get this deal and it’s not just because of the promotion. I have spent so much time on this project that I just want to know either way – I just want to be done with not knowing.

Anyway, enough ranting. Today was not a very good day as far as food goes. I definitely went over my self-imposed 1,600 calorie limit. I find that when I’m stressed, especially about work, I tend to eat more and more often. Running or exercising in general usually helps curb the desire to eat. But when I’m at the office, it’s not like I can hop on the treadmill or even take a walk outside in the winter.

Does anyone else have this problem? What do you do to stop stress eating?

I won’t get into all of the details of what I ate today, but let’s just say I had my fair share of sweets. Thank goodness dinner ended up being pretty healthy to balance things out…

I was able to get home a little earlier than normal so I whipped up some turkey tacos made with green and yellow peppers. Instead of eating actual tacos in a tortilla, I decided to skip the tortillas (which can add quite a few calories on their own) and have some chips and salsa instead.

Chicago is expecting another big winter storm. Although it will be nothing like what our mid-Atlantic friends experienced the last few days, we are still expected to get 10-14 inches in the next 36 hours. My office actually has a secured, internal web site where staff can check from home to see if the office is closed before they leave. Many times, I have rushed to my computer hoping to see that magic phrase – Our offices are closed due to inclement weather – kind of like being in school again 🙂 However, in my 8 years of working there, they’ve only closed the office once, so I’m not holding my breath for tomorrow – although it would be really nice to have an extra day to study.

And speaking of studying, I’m off to do just that! Have a good night.

In a Carb Funk…

Exercise Schedule Thursday:

  • 4-mile interval run on the treadmill
  • 15 ab workout
  • 50-minute yoga session

Hello All!

Today, I learned that we are getting closer to signing a major deal that would fund a huge project – a project that I would be leading! I am so thrilled to be heading up such a major initiative (sorry, I can’t reveal what it is just yet) but I’m really nervous as well. If and when this deal gets signed, I could very well be traveling all over the country throughout the entire year! Yikes, I’m already traveling a ton this Spring – my kids and husband are going to forget what I look like 🙁 I hope to reveal a few more details as they unfold in the coming weeks.

After my anxiety-filled day at work, I stopped to pick up the kids and dinner on the way home. I did NOT get take-out – which would clearly be breaking the self-inflicted rules of the restaurant diet – but rather picked up a rotisserie chicken from The Fresh Market…

I paired the chicken with roasted potatoes and sweet carrots. It was actually a very light meal which is perfect for me because I hate eating a ton when dinner is at 7 PM. However, no one else at the table seemed to like the food – Scott turned down the chicken because it was lemon flavor (come on – who doesn’t like lemon chicken?) and the kids didn’t like anything I gave them. Oh well, more leftovers for me.

I think I may have jumped the gun a little when I said this was a light meal. What I should have said was that this could have been a very light meal…until I added some major carb action. Along with the chicken, we had some awesome cheddar cheese rolls from the bakery…hmmm, so good, even without butter. I admit, I had two of these and quickly fell into a weird carb funk that just about left me in a coma.

Despite my carb overload, I was eager to try another little goodie I picked up from the bakery…

Ahh, yeah! Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ about! If you’re going to do sugar and carbs, do it right and enjoy it! This cupcake may look normal size, but it was actually quite large. I ended up having 1/3 of it and repackaging the rest. I’m also dying to try a little somethin’ somethin’ I picked up for Scott…

It’s a chocolate chip cookie sandwich with buttercream frosting in the middle – OMG – can this get any better? Haven’t tried it yet, but I am getting very close….

Ok, gotta run so I can review a few documents for top-secret call tomorrow. Stay tuned….

Surprise! It's A Boy…And A Girl

Hello out there! It has been nearly 6 months since I started Running With Cake. Like most of you, I don’t reveal all of my surprises right away, if at all. Some information needs to be kept close for security purposes or for other sensitive reasons.

What I’m getting to is this. Surprise! Scott and I are the parents of two young children! Our son, let’s call him Mr. C, is 4 and our daughter, we’ll call her Miss M, is 2 (very James Bond-esque names, don’t ya think ;-)). They, along with my husband, bring me so much happiness just by their presence.


There they are, looking out onto the orchard where we went apple picking in September.

I chose not to mention my children for many reasons, but here are a few top ones:

  1. Safety/security reasons – too many crazies out there!
  2. I wanted this blog to be about my health habits and not a mommy blog (but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with mommy blogs)
  3. I didn’t want to be one of those people who talks about their kids all the time

So, as I’ve been writing the past 6 months, retelling my daily eating habits, health habits, and overall life events, my children have been with me 100% of the way. They have actually been a key part of my healthy lifestyle. I mean, how can you NOT be healthy chasing after two little ones?? I’m also a firm believer that our children will follow our lead, so I’m trying to not only be healthy for me, but also to set an example for them. I want them to grow up loving exercise and sports, while also knowing the importance of healthy and balanced eating. My son often says, “Mom, when I get bigger, I’m going to run with you.” For a mother and a runner, that is a sentence that brings me tears of joy.

Going forward, I don’t know how much I will mention Mr. C and Miss M, if at all, but know that they are still a huge part of my life and my heart.

By the way, if you think you have a crazy and stressful life, take a look at mine.

Jennifer (aka Running With Cake) is a…

  • Wife of a successful entrepreneur 
  • Mother of two
  • Career women with a full-time senior-level position
  • Author of two blogs
  • Aspiring Personal Trainer (studying for the exam!) 
  • An avid runner
  • A frequent traveler (for work mostly)
  • A neat freak

Whew! Can I have any more responsibility in my life! 🙂

Night all!

So, I was called into the Principal's Office….

**Don’t forget about the first ever Running With Cake giveaway! You may just snag yourself a huge bounty of goodies!**

It’s funny how your day can start off normal, with everything going along smoothly, then WHAM! A huge pile of bricks is dropped right on your head. Well, not actually, but that’s kind of how I felt today.

I had a perfectly lovely run this morning, bouncing along to my Christmas music and wondering what I was going to have for breakfast.

11.16 Greek Yogurt with walnuts

Ahh, Trader Joe’s Greek yogurt with walnuts – a super energizing breakfast. Followed by a steaming cup of Tazo Awake tea..

11.16 Tazo Awake Tea

Everything was still normal at this point. Little did I know, I would need this mighty breakfast to get me through a pretty stressful afternoon.

Next up, lunch – another incredibly yummy salad…

11.16 Chicken Salad

All was still well as I crunched along to a sound of my fresh veggies and chicken.

Then – the bomb was dropped right on my desk…

Stress reduction:

I was called into the “principal’s” office, aka our new CEO, for a little chat. That chat turned into a 45 minute conversation about changes that were soon to come in our office. My role in all of this is to help craft tactful messages about these changes so that he can then relay these changes to the staff. The pressure’s ON! Stay calm!


Well, I guess it really did not go down in that dramatic of fashion, but still the messages will be very challenging to draft and convey. And, I can guarantee that some in the office are NOT going to like these messages. One change will really hit home with me – I can’t say now, but I’ll share details later.

Still, even with the challenge ahead, I am absolutely thrilled that he approached me to help him. I’m hoping that speaks quite a bit about my ability to do my job and do it well. 

After my exciting afternoon, I arrived home around 6:30 PM to a full made zesty turkey taco dinner. We started with a bit of guacamole of course…

11.16 Guacamole

11.16 Turkey tacos 2

Turkey tacos or even beef tacos are so easy to make and you don’t even need a boxed mix (sorry Mom, not everything needs to come from a box). You can just buy the taco seasoning spice, follow the directions on the bottle, add a few veggies while browning the meat, and presto – semi-instant turkey tacos!

11.16 Turkey tacos 1

Not bad for a Monday night! But wait, that’s not all…

As you all know, I’ve been on a red velvet cupcake kick for the last few weeks. So, Scott so graciously volunteered to run out to Barnes and Noble to pick up a cupcake for me.

11.16 Red velvet cupcake 2

Not only did he come back with the awesome cupcake, but he also came back with a JCrew bag – full of goodies for him though. Hmm, come to think of it, I could use a little retail therapy right now!

11.16 Red Velvet Cupcake 3

Alright my fellow bloggies, I have a big day ahead of me tomorrow, so I’m off to bed.

Peace, love, and red velvet cupcakes to all!

A Food Blogger's Nightmare

In the food blooger/health blogger world, having camera issues can mean major headaches. But, to lose your camera completely, well that is a nightmare. And today, I am living that nightmare.

My husband spent the whole day with “the boys”, hiking, pizza eating, movie-watching, etc. He asked to take the camera and I obliged. Bad move. Somewhere along the way, our $600 camera was lost. I won’t get into the details or my frustration with the situation. However, I wanted to let you all know of my dilemma so that you would understand why I may have not-so-pretty photos or missing photos completely. In the meantime, I will be using my husband’s iphone to take photos. The photos on his built-in camera are not too bad, but no where near real camera quality.

So now, as you can imagine, I need to invest in a new camera, preferably one that takes awesome close-ups. If you have any recommendations, please shoot them my way!

Sorry ladies, that’s all I’ve got tonight. Just not in the mood to write anything else. I’m sure you can relate on some level.

Breakfast and Life On the Go…

Hello All! Sorry I’ve been MIA all day. It’s been one crazy day! I started with a 4-mile run. It was so foggy out this morning that by the time I got home my hair and face were drenched as if it was raining!

I was really behind schedule after my run, so I had a breakfast on-the-go, which I hardly ever do. Luckily, some smart person out there was thinking of me and all the other over-booked women out there and invented a portable and healthy breakfast in a bar!

9.24 breakfast1

I had another one of my LUNA bars – this time chocolate raspberry. This bar had a great flavor but it was probably a little too much powerbar for me for breakfast. I really prefer it as a pre-run snack. 

9.24 breakfast2

I was really dragging on my way to work, so I stopped off at Starbucks. No, my old Starbucks did not reopen. I stopped at one of those mini Starbucks inside a grocery store. I was really debating on getting a skinny vanilla latte and a mocha frap….guess what I went with –

9.24 starbucks

Hmmm..sooo goood! I drank some of it right when I arrived at work, but then I had to run to a meeting at 9 AM. I usually don’t take anything but water into meetings, but I ended up being in back-t0-back meetings from 9 AM – 12:30 PM!! Oh my gosh – how do they expect me to get any work done? On a break, I ran back over to my desk and grabbed my mostly melted frap and took it back into the meeting. I’m really glad I did because it kept me alert through all of the meetings.

After the meetings, I ate some leftover stir-fry because I didn’t have time to get out for lunch…

9.24 lunch

The stir fry was good but I could have eaten a LOT more than what I brought.

Oddly enough, by the time I got home from work, I wasn’t really that hungry. Scott was at class again tonight so I just threw together a very quick and simple dinner…

9.24 dinner

A 1/2 peanut butter and jelly sandwich, with a side of Cape Cod chips and a nectarine – healthy and satisfying…

  • Protein – √
  • Whole Grains – √
  • MUFA – √
  • Fruit – √
  • Fats – √

I probably could have whipped together something a little more exciting if I had more energy. But at least I’ve graduated from cereal!

Ok, time to say goodnight Gracie!

Fancy a Chocolate or 50?

Ok, enough already. I, once again, walked into the staff lounge to find more food….

9.23 chocolate2

Somehow, gourmet chocolates seem to lose their appeal when they are laying in front of me in mass quantities. But, I had to test one out, just for research purposes of course…

9.23 chocolate3

Hmm, dark chocolate covered orange cream…I’m still on the fence about this one. I may have to try the raspberry cream later 😉

9.23 chocolate1

For breakfast, I grabbed a quick shot of Zola’s Daily Wellness drink then had a little cereal bowl…

9.23 breakfast

I had a mixture of Cheerios whole-grain and Cascadian Farm organic dark chocolate almond granola. It was very tasty. However, I became distracted by my pile of laundry, so by the time I ate the cereal, it was a little soggy.

For lunch, I went to Go Roma Italian cafe for some super tomato basil soup!

9.23 lunch

It was just what I needed on this chilly FALL day! Now that I am refueled for the afternoon, I have to do a s-load of writing. Ugh – deadlines are approaching and I’m feeling a little queasy just thinking about them.

Tonight, I’m headed to my first-ever Williams Sonoma cooking class. It’s on weeknight French suppers -doesn’t that sound yummy! I’ll write a tell-all post tonight, so stay tuned!

There is such a thing as bad pizza..

Hello All,

My training course today went ok. It was delivered very nicely by my team. Now, how it was received is another story. It’s very disheartening when you put so much effort into a presentation or program and then someone in the front row is texting the whole time. Not cool in my book. You could at least fake that you are somewhat interested. 

Anyway, for breakfast, I tried my new Cascadian Farm organic dark chocolate almond granola…

9.17 granola3

Oh my, this was GOOD! I think I could actually get my husband to eat it. He even commented when he saw the box, “hmm, dark chocolate almond granola… I could go for some of that!” He doesn’t usually eat granola, so, that’s really telling you something.

9.17 granola1

I really like this granola – reminded me a lot of my own homemade granola, although I don’t include chocolate in mine. I added it to a bowl of Trader Joe’s vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt and it stayed crunchy the whole time. And, it was yummy!

9.17 granola2

I only added 1/4 cup of the granola to the yogurt (only about 70 calories) but I wish I would have added more! The only negative is that I wish there were more chocolate pieces in my box. I shook it around a bit and really didn’t see much chocolate in it.

Between preparing for and actually delivering today’s training session, I was busy from about 9 AM – 1:30 PM, then I had a meeting from 1:30-2:30 PM. Thankfully, the training included a pizza lunch. However, by the time I actually got around to eating the pizza, it was soggy. Oh my, two soggy pizzas in one week = a really bad week!!!

9.17 lunch

The photo of the pizza actually looked BETTER than it tasted, if you can believe that. This was really proof that you can have bad pizza, no matter what people tell me.

Alright, I’m wrapping up and hoping to get out of here soon. See you all tonight!