Food Confessions of a Personal Trainer
People are always surprised when they see how “normal” I eat; being a personal trainer and all. Things like eating dessert, bread, bacon, and having cream and sugar in my coffee. Yes, I eat all of these things; and not once a year…regularly. Along with my fair share of fruits, veggies and lean proteins of course. I work out hard and am very consistent about it. My philosophy is that life is too short to deprive yourself. Food is amazingly delicious. Wine too. It’s never a good thing to tell yourself “I will never eat a bagel” or “I will never eat ice cream”. Eat it, savor the flavor, and move on. Have a solid fitness routine in place and execute on it. No excuses. Put those bacon calories to good use as energy during your workout.
I was away on vacation last week in Puerto Rico celebrating my two-year wedding anniversary. My husband and I soaked up sunshine, wedding memories, the vibrant Puerto Rican culture, drinks, and A LOT of delicious meals. We were also active. We went running, walking, we even went spelunking in bat caves. The theme is balance, not deprivation.
Here is a chronicle of some of the wonderful meals we enjoyed throughout our trip:
A local couple that we met while chilling at a bar the first afternoon we arrived in San Juan, told us that some of the best food they’ve had is a humble strip of 50 or so food shacks (they also call them kiosks) in the town of Luquillo, a small town a little under an hour drive from San Juan. When we visited Luquillo we were staying at the Gran Meliá Resort in Rio Grande, which is only a short 10 minute drive.
The first day we had lunch at El Jefe Burger Shack. Stray cats roaming around the restaurant and very modest tables and chairs. Graffiti on the ceilings and walls made for some interesting decor. The bright blue ocean is the gorgeous view that runs all along the backside of the strip of kiosks. We waited just about an hour and man oh man was it worth the wait. Freshly made burger patties and handcut fries there are to die for.
The next day we decided to go back to the food kiosks for another culinary delight. We ate at Vejigante. The root vegetable stew was my fave part of the meal (maybe my favorite meal of the trip!) Amir had some scrumptious ribs, topped with grilled onions. We also shared mofongo (a fried plantain-based dish from Puerto Rico made with fried green plantains mashed together in a pilón, which is a wooden mortar). We ended our lunch by sharing a delightful flan.
The last day of our trip, there was a farmers market right next to our hotel in San Juan. We first saw it being set up during our run that morning. Thank goodness we revved up our metabolisms with that run, because little did we know, the farmers market would have A LOT of tasty eats in store for us that day! We headed over to the farmers market a little after 1pm and my husband talked me into trying Lechón, which is a whole roasted pig cooked over charcoal. A vegetarian’s worst nightmare. It was served alongside yellow rice and beans. WOW, I was blown away at how succulent and flavorful the meat tasted. I drew the line of adventurism at the blood sausage, which a local couple we were chatting with in line purchased for my husband and I to try. It is a sausage that is filled with a mixture of blood and rice. I couldn’t do it. My hubby tasted it…brave!
Then we moved onto mini tacos. There are actually three tacos here, pork, beef, and crab. After this we walked. A very long walk. Just under 2 hrs. Then moved onto some fro yo to cool us down from the San Juan heat.
Another great meal experience we had was at La B de Burro in San Juan. The outdoor seating area is a wrestling ring. And there is a sign that advertises tacos. Who wouldn’t want to eat tacos while seated inside a purple wrestling ring in Puerto Rico?! We spotted this place on another run, and decided we would go back the following day for lunch. Our runs proved very advantageous in the scouting of our meal journey!
We had an evening flight out of San Juan and had minimal dinner options in our terminal. Where did we eat you ask? Carl’s Jr. My first time at one. There aren’t any near me at home, but I recall seeing Carl’s Jr.’s offerings frequently listed in health/fitness magazines in those “Eat This/Not That” articles; clearly showing up in the “Not That” category. I pulled up the nutritional info to make an informed choice and opted for chicken tenders and a small fry. For dessert, I had the coconut ginger cookies that I had bought at the farmers market earlier that day.
Now I am back home. I gained a couple of pounds, but you know what; it was worth every last bit of beans and rice =) Hitting my workouts hard and not feeling bad about all the eating last week. I did not eat dessert after lunch today, or have a sangria with my lunch. Nor did I consume any Carl’s Jr. But if I did, I would just keep on being active. Moving my body and sweating at least once a day. So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it; Personal Trainers are human too! Eat. Drink. Move. Sweat. And be Merry.