Tag Archives: Restaurant



I experience tremendous guilt after I eat at certain restaurants. For example, I often joke that Olive Garden is my alma mater. But seriously, I love me some O.G. My favorite dishes involve seafood, pasta, and some seriously rich and cheesy sauce. Plus, who can resist endless salad and those warm breadsticks?

I experience guilt after I have a couple of beers, knowing each cider is probably upward of 150 (empty) calories.

I’ve even experienced guilt after sampling cupcakes for our wedding. For our wedding. I mean, for real, somebody has to try them to make sure they’re fit to serve to guests. And it’s not like I ate six of them by myself.

See? This type of justification is what I mean.

I’ve always known that striving for that eighty-twenty ratio of healthy eats to indulgence is ideal, but that nobody’s diet is perfect. I guess knowing and understanding really are two separate entities.

Somehow, I feel guilty either way — if I eat cleanly for an entire week, I don’t feel as though I’ve allowed myself any “freedom”; if I eat a little too much Valentine’s Day candy, or if I go through all three Skinny Cows in three days (when I meant to spread them out over a week), I feel as though I’ve allowed myself too much freedom. It’s a lose-lose situation for me.

This past week, I had a serious “ah-ha” moment regarding the eighty-twenty mantra: I’m doing what I set out to do. I’m eating a balanced, nutritious diet full of all of the natural goodness my body needs and craves, and I’m giving myself the wiggle-room to have dessert and richer choices here and there. I’m finding ways to fit strength-training and cardio workouts into my new routine. I feel more energetic and productive than ever. But I also have a constant side dish of guilt.

The guilt is entirely unnecessary (Ah-ha!). If I’m accomplishing my goal(s) and I’m feeling good about myself and my choices, then there’s no need to feel guilty. End of story 😉

Happy Saturday, blends! I’m off to the grocery store!

Question: Do you ever experience food-related guilt? How do you combat it? What was your latest “ah-ha” moment?


Scenes from the Weekend


Okay, not scenes from the weekend so much as anecdotes. I’ve been terrible about taking photographs recently – partially because I simply forget, and partially because I’ve been busy beyond belief. This past weekend was the perfect combination of productivity and time spent with friends.

Friday, I spent the morning reading for my toughest class – the source of a good bit of my academic-related stress. In the afternoon, I focused on kicking ass at the gym by bumping up my strength-training regimen. Friday evening, I grabbed dinner with a friend and her boyfriend. I gotta tell y’all, my resolution of making healthier choices at restaurants is not going as swimmingly as I anticipated. I reasoned with myself that because I had eaten a massive veggie-heavy salad for lunch and pumped some serious iron, that I should order the spicy-Cajun-Alfredo-pasta-shrimp thing. C’mon, A.K. The best part of my day was sipping on a few beers with Amy and Adam, with Wedding Crashers playing in the background, and laughing until I couldn’t breathe. (Side note: I’ve become completely obsessed with ciders. Original Sin, Angry Orchard, Woodchuck, Crispin, Michelob Ultra Apple… you name it. If I’m craving beer, I’m craving cider.) Maybe I’m just getting old, but this is what I’ve come to think of as “raging” these days. In fact, I’m 97% sure I am getting old, because we called it a night at 12:00 on the button.

Saturday morning, I was rarin’ to go. I hit the road for Hampden-Sydney earlier than I’d planned because I was just too excited. Ian met me there around 1:00, and we walked around campus and visited some of his former professors before heading to the basketball game. HSC blew Bridgewater’s ass out of the water, nearly doubling their score! We bummed around campus a bit more and hung out with some friends before heading to dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings. I nearly did myself in munching on a bag of Bugles when my blood sugar got low, but I still managed to put away the spiciest chicken sandwich I’ve ever had in my life. My taste buds are pathetic.

As disappointed as I was, I knew Ian needed to leave right after dinner. Technically, it was supposed to be one of his designated “study weekends,” but this was the only spring HSC basketball game we were able to fit in our busy schedules. A few hours with him were better than none at all 😉

Yesterday, my Internet was MIA. All. Day. Long. I considered calling the company, but I knew no one would come out to remedy the problem on a Sunday. Plus, it was kind of nice to be forced to take a break from compulsively checking my email, preparing blog posts, updating Twitter, conducting wedding business, etc. I unexpectedly had more free time than I normally do on Sundays to get ahead on some reading, fit in a nice sweat sesh on the elliptical, eat three square meals at home, and even catch part of the Honey Boo Boo marathon and the Grammys.

All in all, a fantastic weekend, with a perfect balance of work and play. I hope your weekend was good!

Question: Did you catch the Grammys? Some of those celebs were looking trife…

Arosto + Nutrition Log


Tonight, one of my closest grad school friends and I had a dinner date at a new wood-fired pizza joint in town, Arosto. Both the dinner date and the location were her idea, and she even picked me up! Now that’s a good friend 😉 She had the BBQ Chicken Pizza (BBQ sauce, chicken, red onion, mozzarella, cheddar), while I tried the Julianne Pizza (Romano sauce, spinach, pesto, chicken, Roma tomatoes, mozzarella, feta). We swapped slices so we could try each other’s; both were delicious, but I’m big into pesto and spinach. The Julianne was a hit, and so was Arosto!




(I normally don’t drink soda, but I’m a total sucker for Coke in glass bottles… And this Coke was naturally sweetened, so it wasn’t saccharine-sweet!)

The pizza place was super cute and very artsy and mod-looking, and obviously very popular! We parked ourselves at a table for two-and-a-half hours talking wedding, and people were steadily streaming through the door and forming a line that stretched outside. It’s only been open for a week, and it’s already doing booming business — probably due to rave reviews like ours!

In other news…

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m not calculating nutrition information for meals eaten out (for my sanity’s simplicity’s sake). Calculating the carbs, protein, and fat I’m eating is much more difficult than I anticipated. You’re probably thinking, Duh! Well, recording any foods with nutrition labels (e.g. almonds, milk, canned soup, soy sauce, bagged baby spinach, bananas) is relatively simple. I’m running into challenges in areas such as leftovers. For example, I took a bottle of Vitamin Water with me to class last night, but I finished it today. I added all of the nutrition info to yesterday’s log, but that’s not entirely accurate. Same with the stir fry I finished for lunch today. I calculated the info for the sauce (soy sauce, honey, Marsala wine, oil) and the brown rice on yesterday’s log. I did not include any nutritional info for the squash, celery, baby carrots, onion, broccoli, or green pepper on yesterday’s log because I didn’t want to mess with figuring out the size or number of ounces of veggies used. I also didn’t include any of this on today’s log, mostly because just a few bites were left over.

To be honest, I’m not feeling satisfied with my nutrition log. I knew when I decided to calculate this information that fresh, raw foods wouldn’t be included, but it feels incredibly incomplete without the total package. I don’t want to start calculating this information in the middle of the week, though, or there won’t be an accurate basis for comparison. I did decide to start calculating fiber, however. How could I have left out such a crucial component of my diet?!

That said, today I consumed 75g carbohydrates (though I made up for this deficit with my scrumptious Julianne pizza), 33.5 protein, 42g fat, and 11g fiber. Topped off with a delicious cup of hazelnut decaf while I settle in for Toddlers and Tiaras 😉

Date Night: Who Foots the Bill?


I may be the only female out there who doesn’t believe that just because he’s the guy, Ian should foot the bill every single time we go out.

Sorry I’m not sorry that I don’t put stock in archaic gender stereotypes or double-standards. Sure, I love saving money and feeling pampered just as much as the next girly-girl, but I realize that Ian is only human, and he’s also trying to put himself through medical school with loans and scholarships. Evidently I’m not as familiar with his finances as I believed due to his recent, ahem, proposal… but we’re pretty much equally “broke college students.” That said, there are a few ways Ian and I choose to pay for Date Night without him going bankrupt.

For the first six months or so of our relationship, Ian paid for everything. Then, because I turned 21 first, and everyone knows that A.K. doesn’t just have one drink with dinner, I started paying for my adult beverages. When Ian turned 21, sometimes we would agree that one of us would pay for the meal and the other one paid for the ah-ah-ah-ah-alcohol. [Sorry. Couldn’t resist.]

Typically, we go dutch. That way, I don’t feel guilty for ordering sweet tea and filet mignon while he orders water and a salad. He told me a long time ago to order whatever I like, but it puts my mind at ease to know that he doesn’t have to go broke trying to be a gentleman. We almost always split appetizers and desserts (when we even get them), so we split the cost of them, too.

We are not above purchasing gift cards for ourselves for restaurants where we’ll soon be dining (e.g. Olive Garden). Buying restaurant gift cards at Kroger, for example, earns us major fuel points. He drives an Explorer, so saving 30 cents per gallon at the pump really helps him out!

Along that same vein, because we live two hours apart, we generally agree that whoever is the “guest” does not have to drive to dinner. For one thing, we’re each more familiar with our own city, and for another, we just like making things equal. To that end, we try not to eat out more than once per visit; whoever is “hosting” the other one cooks dinner in the other night(s) of the visit.

One of the most important Date Night rules we have is that we agree — before we even step foot in the restaurant — who will be paying. It makes the entire evening more carefree, and less awkward for the waiter/waitress. It only took one or two uncomfortable “Uhhh…” moments for us to establish that rule for ourselves. Our only other Date Night rule? No cell phones. When we’re on a date, we’re on a date. My Tweeps can find out later what I was up to, and I can delay Instagramming my food for a couple hours 😉

Of course, when we’re married, a lot of this will change. For now, anyway, we’ve got a good thing going here, so why fix what isn’t broken?

Question: When you and your significant other go out, who pays?

Resolution Ringers


As today is December 20th, it’s pretty obvious what I should be doing, right? Of course you already know: blogging about my New Year’s resolutions! Duhhh.

Nah. It’s not so self-explanatory. In any event, I’ve resolved (get it?) to beat the late-December-slash-early-January rush and write about my resolutions now. While my list is not necessarily one hundred percent complete, I’ve put a lot of time and thought into the resolutions I do have complete. So, off we go, in no particular order.

1. I resolve to make better choices at restaurants. I tend to tell myself, “You worked out today! Go ahead and order the Creamy Calories with the side of Bloat!” or, “You know what? You had a stressful week, so go ahead and order whatever you want, and we [your body as an audience] will look the other way.” Is there really a reason I seem to be “unable” to choose lighter fare with side dishes of veggies? I am under no misconceptions that the reasons I can’t lose weight as quickly as I would like are cursed alcohol and restaurant delights…


2. I resolve to be less critical and more complimentary. I admit it — I’m a pretty judgmental person. I will call you out for lookin’ like a hoe walking into church. If you make a Freudian slip, I’ll be the first to make you aware of it. And if you say something utterly stupid, you can count on hearing from me about it in a particularly embarrassing manner. Better watch your back! But that was the “old” A.K. 😉

3. I resolve to keep an honest-to-goodness budget during the spring semester. Though Ian and I won’t be tying the knot for quite awhile, we both need to gauge how much we spend on a monthly basis. Currently, his rent covers power, water, cable, Internet, laundry and garbage services, and gym and pool access. Mine covers about half of that for the same cost. Bully. I’m going to try my hand at a legit line-item budget, color-coded (my OCD passion) by type of expense. Keep me in your prayers — math is NOT my forte.

4. I resolve to comment on fellow bloggers’ posts more often. So many times, I read a post that I really like, and I comment aloud or mentally… but I don’t leave the blogger my feedback. As a fairly new blogger who gets far too excited about a single comment I appreciate feedback, constructive criticism, encouragement, and simple messages letting me know that someone out there is reading my stuff. I know I’m really simplifying the mantra, but it’s a way I can treat others as I want to be treated.

5. I resolve to love myself on the outside. Loving yourself on the inside is equally as, if not more so, important. I don’t mean to brag, but I’m pretty comfortable with who I am on the inside. I really learned to love who I am during college, and those feelings have grown firmer and more confident as I have lived on my own and worked on my Master’s degree. However… my feelings about my body shape and size aren’t nearly as lovey. I’ve lost 34 pounds in the past 11 months (huzzah!) but I have 36 more to go until I reach my goal weight. What I resolve to work on is eliminating that “but” from my phraseology. For example, “I weigh __ pounds, and I have __ pounds to go!” I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and all that I’ve learned, and I resolve to actively try to feel more comfortable with the size and shape I currently am.


And there you have it. Every year that I’ve made resolutions, I haven’t quite stuck to them as I would’ve liked — a trap to which I feel most some other people must fall victim. However, every year I create new resolutions after January first that somehow seem to stick around far longer and are more effective motivators. I’m not saying that 2013’s resolutions will definitely, for sure happen, but maybe having them written down (publicly) will keep my eyes on the prize. You win some, you lose some.

Happy Thursday, blends!

Toys 4 Tots Race Recap


This afternoon, my dad and I ran in the Toys 4 Tots 5k at Innsbrook in Richmond. I’ll be brutally honest from the get-go: I barely prepped for this race. Of course, we weren’t participating competitively. We ran in it to improve our time (he set a 34-minute goal for us) and to help out some kids who aren’t as fortunate come Christmas time. When I say I barely prepped, I mean that I had good intentions last week, but I experienced a few hiccups. Then, I came home on Thursday and I didn’t fit a single workout into my weekend.

I know every runner is different, but my pre-race breakfast is usually pretty big. This morning I had a Greek yogurt topped with pomegranate arils and granola, a hearty bowl of Cheerios topped with fresh sliced banana, a cup of coffee, and a bottle of water. That was about 10:00; like clockwork, I was hungry again at 11:30, so I whipped up some sliced Asian pear with crunchy PB. [Side note — you’d think that among all these meals I’d be as big as a house, but I’ve actually lost 3 more pounds!] Then, because my blood sugar is about as predictable as an active meth lab, I packed one of my favorite KIND bars in case I needed it before the race.

Rather than focusing on completing 3.1 miles in 34 minutes, we decided to set a pace that was comfortable for us, and then pick it up toward the end. At our last 5k, we accomplished our goal of 35 minutes by the skin of our teeth. I had yet to be able to shave off a whole minute from my time in the gym, where the treadmill provides me consistency, level ground, and a constant pace. As I also mentioned, I hadn’t done a great deal of prep work or training… or any at all. I wasn’t confident going into it, but I was certainly willing to try.

We stretched at home, we stretched at the race, and then we stretched some more. I knew for a fact I was hydrated; I woke up twice in the middle of the night to pee, I had to go three times before we left the house, and I (reluctantly) used the Port-o-Potties twice before the race started. I wasn’t taking any chances today. I knew I was well-fueled and mentally prepared.

I felt GREAT for the first mile or so. After we passed the water station, I started cramping a bit. It wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle, so I put it out of my mind and on we ran. As we rounded the halfway markers, I told myself what I always do at that point: Less than halfway to go now. I asked Dad, “What’s our time?” and he said we were at 19 minutes. I didn’t know how that could be, since I knew we were keeping a pace faster than we ever had, and I knew how good I felt mentally and physically. He said, “It’s all downhill from here!” meaning that figuratively, he was encouraging me as I had pep-talked myself.

It was an out-and-back course, so as we passed the water station again, I asked for a time-check. He said we were at 34 minutes. My heart sank. How could we be at 34 minutes with more than half a mile to go and at the pace we had kept? I even felt as though we had picked it up on the second half, even though the course was slightly uphill on the second leg. As we rounded one of the last corners he said, “About a quarter-mile to go. You’re doing great.” At that point, I was ready to be finished running, my lungs were burning, and my calves were starting to feel the brunt of pounding pavement.

Then, we crested the last hill into the finish line… and I saw the clock — 33:25. He lied! We had 35 seconds to cross the finish line, and about 50 yards to go. I said, “RUN!” and we high-tailed it across that line. As it turns out, we were at just over 16 minutes at the halfway point, and when I asked for the second time-check, we were at about 28 minutes. He told me later that he didn’t know whether his strategy would serve as a motivator or a disheartener, but I think it worked quite well for me!

Our “official” time was 33:57, but Dad had clocked us on his watch from start to finish because we weren’t at the front of the pack when the race started — 33:46 — our best time yet! I tried to let the glory of our accomplishment sink in as we walked around and stretched out. We found a water station and grabbed half a banana and a Fig Newton bar each. I think I was still in awe as we made our way to the car and watched fellow racers rounding the last turn.

As always, my only real goal was to run the entire race without stopping. We accomplished that and then some! God will probably smite me for skipping church, but I think He’s proud of us for kicking ass today 😉 Nobody was able to come to the race with us, so I asked my mom to take a picture of us in our race regalia when we got home:


Happy Sunday, blends! I’m off to Brio Tuscan Grille for dinner and drinks with my parents and some friends from church before a concert at the University of Richmond!

So, I Pray at Restaurants…


I didn’t have class yesterday, and since the semester is so close to being over (T-minus 6 days!), I don’t have much schoolwork left. I decided to take my textbook to Chick-Fil-A and get a little reading done while I munched on my beloved Chick’n Strips Salad and a fruit cup. I thought of it as “Treat Yoself” day 😉

Turns out, I’m a complete flippin’ idiot. I pulled up to Chick-Fil-A at 12:10. The drive-thru line was wrapped doubly around the building. I almost thought I’d have to park at Sheetz and walk over when I finally spotted a teeny space wedged between two SUVs. I made a beeline for that mother and then dashed inside… only to realize that there were two available tables in the entire place. I was about tenth in line, so I could’ve been that incredibly rude customer who “reserves” a table using her suitcase-sized purse or some non-essential item of clothing, but I just couldn’t do that. I patiently waited my turn, barely being able to hear myself order over the thundering din of screaming toddlers and businessmen on Bluetooths. Somehow, I found a small booth by the window. As I dressed my fragrant salad with Honey Mustard and admired the freshness of my fruit cup, I noticed that the booth of college students — hulking, male college students — in front of me was holding hands with their eyes closed, saying a prayer.

I know it’s rude, but I couldn’t help but watch them as they quietly finished their prayer and went on about their meal. I was truly in awe that these guys would hold each others’ hands and pray in the middle of a crowded restaurant. I think I was also in awe because I knew I was about to do the same.

See, my family and I frequently pray at restaurants. Sometimes we hold hands, and sometimes we just lean in together. One of us says a few quiet words to bless our meal, and then we continue with our business. Each of us pretty much has a standard prayer when it’s our turn. Mine goes like this: Dear God, thank you for this food, and please keep us safe in our travels. Covers most of my bases, right? 😉

In my experience, there are two sticky things to consider when praying at restaurants: (1) whether any guests with us will feel uncomfortable if we pray, and (2) avoiding the waiter/waitress arriving to deliver food or refill drinks. While I shouldn’t have to compromise my values or beliefs for someone else, sometimes praying aloud is something we choose to forego if we’ve invited someone to dine with us who practices a different religion or someone we know we would be making uncomfortable. It’s not like my family is going to force a kumbaya circle, or insist that everyone go around and say five things for which they’re thankful, or enlist people to do a group Tebow in the middle of a crowded restaurant… We’re simply expressing our gratitude.

Honestly, I think it’s awesome when I see other young people praying in public. I’m not what most people would consider to be a conservative person, but it brings a smile to my heart when I witness other people sharing in their faith, unafraid that others might see them or judge them. I don’t believe in martyrdom or intentional showiness, but such a simple event can have such a profound ripple effect. I really wanted to shake those guys’ hands and tell them how cool I thought what they did was, but instead I just enjoyed what I witnessed, and I carried that happiness with me all day. They’ll never know the effect they had on me, but that’s one of the things I find coolest about faith.

Question: How does it make you feel when you see people praying in public?