Temptation in Your Thirties (Or, What About Those Times When Only Nutella Will Do?)

I remember the good ol’ days when I had no idea what the heck Nutella was. Those days are fuzzy and feel like they happened in another life.

Then I went through a period where Nutella was my kryptonite. It’s so delicious and tempting, I could eat the whole jar in just a few days if it was in my apartment (ok, maybe more like 2 days…or maybe even 1. Eek!). I used to stare longingly at the Nutella in my kitchen cabinet. I wanted it so badly. I had to use every ounce of my willpower to avoid it.

But then I discovered a funny thing- if I didn’t buy Nutella and didn’t have it in my apartment, I wouldn’t eat it. I couldn’t eat it. It wasn’t there to eat.

In my thirties, the Nutella lesson has become a life metaphor for many things. I started making it a habit to keep my phone ringer on silent while meditating first thing in the morning. That way, nothing can come up and interrupt my meditation- it’s just the first thing I do. I also blog at least twice a week- and I have an accountability agreement with Jane: she writes, then I write, then she writes, then I write. It’s good to have that kind of system set up.

I think that by your thirties, you’re really beginning to know yourself- your strengths and weaknesses, what you can tolerate and what you can’t, where you can push yourself and where you cannot. If you work with your strengths instead of against them, and you take your worst weak points out of the equation as much as you can, your life will run smoother. There are ways to really start working well with yourself in your thirties the way you never could before.

Setting up habits is super helpful, and can help remove kryptonite situations from your life. It’s hard to remove your kryptonite until you know what it is.. but once in your thirties, you know yourself better. So you can set yourself up to remove bad temptations from the equation and make way for good temptations to come in and make your life way more fun.

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How Good Are You At Cooking By Your Thirties?

I recently read an article on Thrillist called 11 Dishes You Should Be Able to Make by the Time You’re 30. I could make 3 of them.

Now, this seems unfair. I consider myself to be a good cook, and I cook all the time. My Seamless and Grubhub accounts have been collecting dust (tech dust) for years, and I’m fantastic at saving money by not only cooking at home, and in hotel rooms, but cooking at home and in hotel rooms with whatever is lying around.

So let’s go over the list that Thrillist made, cause it seems kinda random:

1. Scrambled Eggs. Okay, this one I understand. Cooking eggs by 30 is important. Eggs are easy and full of protein. And check, I got scrambled eggs down. It’s not the best dish ever, but I can do this just fine.

2. Mac and Cheese. Half check. This is ironic because mac and cheese is actually my favorite food. Don’t get me wrong, I can easily make a mac and cheese, but I’d have to follow a recipe. I try not to keep cheese in the house because I’m addicted to it and am also slightly allergic. So I really only have mac and cheese occasionally when I’m out. Actually, I can make a mean vegan mac and cheese..if that counts. I kinda like that mac and cheese is on this 30’s list, cause I find it important…

3. Tomato Sauce. Belongs on the 30’s list…it’s an important basic. But I cannot make this. It’s been on my list of ‘recipes to perfect’ forever. Buying a jar is just so easy though… But I plan to get good at making it. One day.

4.  Pizza. Do english muffin pizzas count? I’ve never tried to make pizza, but I really want to. It’s also on my list of ‘recipes to perfect.’ But I don’t think it needs to be on the 30’s list. Pizza is so easy to just order in.

5. Grilled Steak. I’m a vegetarian. I have an excuse. And I don’t think it needs to be on the thirties list…but that’s me.

6. Roasted Chicken. Vegetarian. Off my thirties list…but this might be a good one for others.

7. Salmon. I hate seafood. Plus, vegetarian, remember? And no for the list… I’m grossed out and don’t think salmon is important.

8. Guacamole. Yes! I make a great guacamole! Guacamole is its own food group to me! Yes for the thirties list!

9. Meatballs. You know why I don’t make these. Totally not on the thirties list.

10. Skillet Burger. See above for why I don’t make them. But I really want to start making veggie burgers. However, like pizza, I think burgers are easier and better to order in or grab while out and don’t belong on the thirties list.

11. Cookies. Yes! I’m a fantastic baker. I think being able to bake at least SOMETHING well totally belongs on the thirties list.

Okay, so my reasons for wanting many things on or off the thirties list are arbitrary.

What do you think? Did Thrillist do a good job? Can you make these? What’s on your ‘must be able to cook by thirty’ list? I’d love to read your comments below! 🙂

I recently baked some bread, and was quite proud of myself! But bread should definitely not be on the thirties list...too hard.

I recently baked some bread, and was quite proud of myself! But bread should definitely not be on the thirties list…too hard.

Being able to make a soup is a good one for the list though..here I've made some split pea soup to go with the bread.

Being able to make a soup is a good one for the list though..here I’ve made some split pea soup to go with the bread.

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Mmmm…fresh baked bread…

The Childhood Calorie Dilemma Still Around In My Thirties

As a woman, I’ve grown up reading my fair share of women’s magazines. It started with Seventeen Magazine (which I began reading at age 12.)

But I was always a voracious reader even back then, so it didn’t stop there.  I began to devour Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Marie Claire, Elle, Vogue, Allure, and occasionally even Redbook. I couldn’t stop. When I got to college and discovered that the gym existed and was something I could do, I added Shape, Women’s Health, and Self Magazine to my repertoire.

The magazines were “fun” and “silly” but they were also addictive and confusing. I took their advice very seriously because I didn’t have any other information about diet and exercise. I’d never really thought much about working out and being thin before. I grew up in a household that ate dessert and drank soda with every meal, and my mother always cooked wonderful indulgent dinners for us every night.

It took until college for the magazine brainwashing to really kick in, but once I was living on my own, I began to really experiment with diets in order to be the ultimate in skinny. I went through all kinds of weird food phases.

  • I tried the Atkins diet where I only ate meat and cheese, and just butter alone…with no bread.
  • Then I tried the South Beach diet, which was a modified version of Atkins- so I could add some nuts to my meat.
  • I tried skipping dinner every single day until I couldn’t do it anymore.
  • I tried skipping lunch every single day until I couldn’t do it anymore
  • I replaced dinner with milk shakes
  • I went days without eating solid food and tried to live on liquids alone.
  • I tried eating soy sauce packets instead of food when I got hungry.
  • I tried to eat only fruit and vegetables and absolutely nothing else…except occasionally soy chips.

And there were probably many other stupid phases I don’t really remember. And during most of them, I made sure to go to the gym 5-7 days a week as well, because I figured that would help. And I never thought of myself as having any sort of disorder, because it was all “normal”…every woman was obsessed with being thin. Obviously, thin was the best thing to be. And I didn’t have an “eating disorder” because I was neither anorexic nor bulimic. But I was obsessed. I couldn’t think of much else besides what I did or didn’t eat. But of course, I knew I could stop at any time…

Throughout all of this, and beyond, my focus was never on being the strongest I could be. I never thought about food as making me strong and actually physically powerful. I thought about LACK of food as making me powerful…psychologically powerful that is…because being thin equals ultimate power, right?

So when I read the article 1200 Calories the other day, it almost made me cry, because the comments it makes about problematic marketing to women are so true. Even now. The marketing is just as bad now.

I hope that one day women’s magazines will all stress eating whole foods, building muscle, and getting strong, as opposed to just cutting calories and getting as thin as possible, but I don’t know if this will ever truly happen.

The author of ‘1200 Calories’ talks about how women have been taught from a very young age, through all sorts of media sources, that what we need to do is cut calories and starve ourselves. We’re taught that being as thin as possible is the ultimate perfection. We’re taught that eating low calorie food with no real nutrients and doing as much cardio as possible is the way for us to be sexy.

“Women’s magazine covers frequently use terms like “drop X pounds fast!” and “calorie-torching workout!” and “low-calorie foods.” Men’s magazines use keywords like “build,” “power,” and “strength. Think of all the potential that is thrown out the window when women deprive themselves of food on their quest to be thin. What great things could women accomplish if we weren’t fucking dieting all the time?! It’s saddening.” 

How sad is it that the message of going for actual health, building muscle, and being strong wasn’t a message I started thinking about until recently? How much sadder is it that I still barely believe that message to be true?

What can we do about this? How can we combat the harmful marketing to women that’s still going on strong right at this very moment?

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The Best Foods For Your Thirties

What foods do you love now but hated before? I made a list of foods that I’m now obsessed with including:

1. Mushrooms

I used to HATE mushrooms- it’s a texture thing. Now I really love them. This is partially because of my forays into cooking- mushrooms add a ton of flavor to everything.  I still can’t do a huge portobello in a burger, though. Gross.

2. Hot Sauce

I used to really dislike hot sauce and couldn’t figure out why people were into it. Now it’s everything. It’s especially good on mac and cheese that’s too bland…like most vegan mac and cheeses.

3. Jalapenos

Like hot sauce, these were avoided like the plague. Now, I like to infuse my sauces, and even my drinks, with jalepenos.

4. Lemons

Was never a big citrus fan. But now with the whole lemon water craze, I’ve been trying lemons as a condiment…making salad dressings out of them and even squeezing them in my water glass way more often.

5. Wasabi

I must just have a higher tolerance for spicy foods nowadays, but suddenly no sushi meal is complete without this previously hated side paste.

6. Whisky

Okay, not a food, but I now seriously love me some Old Fashioneds…and I’m the girl who used to spit them out.

7. Beer

Another non-food, but I never liked beer, and for quite awhile I thought I was allergic to it. Now I’m all about it- especially craft beer and beyond …I’ll always love my usual belgian favorites but I’ve moved on to beefier porters and stouts…plus strawberry beer!

So those are the foods (and drinks) that my tastebuds have added to their happiness repertoire in my thirties.

I googled “best foods for your thirties,” and found a bunch of articles with foods that are reccomended for this time in our lives. You can check on some of them them here and here and here. Below is a summary list of the foods that repeated the most, the ones I think are best, and why they are important:

  1. Water– Essential nutrient. If you add nothing else to your diet, add more water. It’s everything, no matter what your age.
  2. Bananas– Good source of potassium. Helps with high blood pressure/ hypertension. (I love these. They’re almost an everyday occurrence for me.)
  3. Beans– Rich in antioxidants, protein, and fiber. Good for your skin. (I’ve already been adding these to everything I can for years- they’re a great vegetarian source of protein. )
  4. Nuts– Loaded with Vitamin E and B which both boost the immune system. Walnuts are known to soothe stress. Nuts are also good for your skin. And, because of their arginine content, they’re known to boost sex drive as well! Just don’t overdo it now that you know their benefits- a handful a day is plenty 🙂
  5. Fish– Full of essential fatty acids. Good source of vitamin A and reduces cartilage swelling and inflammation. For vegetarians like myself, try ground flaxseed instead.
  6. Avocados (a superfood, and quite delicious- loaded with folate for fertility, good fat for your skin, and lots of vitamins B and E). Guacamole, anyone?? 😀
  7. Oatmeal (One of my favorite diet staples- an amazing source of iron, full of fiber, plus magnesium to tame muscle stress)
  8. Leafy greens, broccoli, bell peppers– full of vitamin c, protein, vitamin e, and antioxidants. Spinach, ounce for ounce, has more protein than steak!
  9. Berries: Great sources of vitamin C and antioxidants, plus they’re just plain delicious. Blueberries are the ultimate superfood.

So enjoy the foods that are great for your health, and the foods and drinks that taste even better as you get older. Stay healthy and enjoy your thirties to their fullest…even if that means adding hot sauce to everything and going for the absolute tastiest top shelf whisky! 😉

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You Kinda Just Had To Be There. (or- The Bats Fly At Sundown)

I used to have a boyfriend who didn’t understand travel. He had no idea why I liked traveling so much or why I felt the need to personally go and see so many different places.

“You can see them online,” he said, (he was a major techie), “you can see photos and videos and you can read about any place you want on the internet with some googling. There are so many travel blogs and there’s Wikipedia. Why do you need to go there?”

It always made me sad that some people (especially ones close to me) don’t understand how the internet can’t capture the feeling of a place. Photos and video and even the most beautiful words aren’t the same as actually being somewhere.

In my thirties I travel more than ever. I travel for work most of the time, but I’d love to travel more for pleasure (Soon! Right now, I usually stay put in New York when I’m off from work..this is because of financial reasons mainly (darn you, student loan!)), but soon I shall whip out my international bucket list once again.

I advise everyone to travel because it exposes you to all types of details and feelings you may miss where you are. Changing your location can really change your mindset- and your preconceived notions of the way other places (and other people) are.

This weekend I’ve been working in Austin, Texas. I went here once before with Jane, just for fun. We had the best time, and discovered that Austin was nothing like our preconceived ideas of Texas…even though we’d never been to Texas before. Austin’s slogan is “Keep Austin Weird” and the whole place reminds me more of the hipsterville that is Williamsburg, Brooklyn than the cowboytown that I thought Texas would be.

Jane and I circa 2009 having a blast in Austin with the Longhorns!

Jane and I circa 2009 having a blast in Austin with the Longhorns!

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Yum!

Jane and I Yelping the best Mexican food in Austin...all cheesy goodness!

We Yelped all the best Mexican food in Austin…lots of cheesy goodness!

This time Austin brought a completely different feeling…though also very good. Firstly, I’m here with different people (my coworkers) and at a completely different time in my life. Austin feels almost like a totally different place – even though it’s still as fun as I remember.

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Something I missed last time in Austin with Jane was the fact that there’s a bridge downtown where 1.5 million bats live. They stay under the bridge until sundown when they all fly out to feed.

My coworkers and I were told we needed to see these bats fly out from underneath the bridge, so we arrived at 8pm and waited together. It was pretty exciting. We expected to see this sight:

Photo we saw online.

Photo of what the internet told us we would see.

But instead we saw this:

Nice view. But no bats.

Nice view. But no bats.

And then this:

It got dark. We could kind of see some bats, but not the way we thought we would (they were quickly flying out from under the bridge and then back in. Not doing a mass exodus like we saw in the photos.) Alas, it was too dark and they could not be captured with our cameras anymore.

Darkness. The bats were late. Then we could kind of see lots of bats, but not the way we thought we would (they were quickly flying out from under the bridge and then back in. Not doing a mass exodus like we saw in the photos.) Alas, it was too dark and they could not be captured with our cameras anymore.

But we had a good time anyway because we got to hang out together in Austin and watch for bats. And we did eventually see bats. And heard bats. Even though it was different than we thought it would be.

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And I can’t imagine getting the all the feelings I get from Austin just from googling it online. Because I felt this:

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And those pictures and my description can’t capture it.

Austin is weird. And young. And hipster. And Southern. And party. And foodie. And wild. And sunset. And morning. And healthy. And unhealthy. And night time. And yoga. And whisky. And bikes. And dancing. And all. And none.

It will be different for you.

You just have to go there.

Was that a gorilla I just saw on my run?

Was that a gorilla I just saw on my run?

Elvis? Is that you?

Elvis? Is that you? Are you in Austin?

The trash cans are solar powered? For reals?

The trash cans are solar powered here? For real?

Ladybird Lake

Ladybird Lake- I had no idea there was a running trail here.

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Wait, what’s this natural pool?

Wait, they made a pool out of LadyBird lake!

They made a pool out of LadyBird lake! Awesome!

You never know what you'll find once you're here

And who knows what you’ll find once you’re here…

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