Hold the sugar

Hi friends! How are you? Hope you’ve had a wonderful day so far <3


I got a job today!! Remember the interview I had last week? I was starting to get a little worried because I hadn’t heard anything, but today they called me in to meet the other instructors and fill out paperwork. I am so, so fortunate to be on a team with some of the best instructors in Arizona and teach at a resort with a fabulous mission. Today, I received my name tag and everything, tomorrow, I get to do Operation Golden Flow (a drug test) and then everything should be GTG for next week 🙂 Teaching at a health resort of this caliber will make me a much stronger instructor- I’ll be expected to be able to teach almost all of the classes they offer! I’m really excited 😀

Some recent snackage:



(you can never have enough ballz)

Berry Chocolate and Coffee smoothie


(1 C almond milk, 1 scoop Sun Warrior, 1/2 banana, blueberries, raw cacao powder and decaf espresso powder)

Not quite a salad beast, but a mere salad:

(Romaine, tomatoes, balsamic and flax- flax is my new fave salad topping)

Organic yam and black beans:

sp and beans

with cumin, garlic powder, cayenne and sea salt.

So today, a tweep drew my attention to the NY Times article entitled “Is Sugar Toxic?”

image Source

In the article, the author discusses Robert Lustig’s popular lecture on sugar, and the fact the he deems sugar evil, addictive and similar to drugs or alcohol. According to the author, sugar is the main cause for obesity and disease in our culture, which I agree with 100%. In the article, the metabolic processes for sugar are discussed- I found it especially interesting that sugar from a potato or slice of bread, which is glucose, and the caloric equivalent of sugar, a mix of glucose and fructose, are processed differently by the body.

I won’t do a full-up synopsis for the bloggy, because I do think the article is worth a read, but I was asked for my favorite non-sugar ways to sweeten my food:

– Usually, I think food tastes pretty dang fantastic on its own. Fruit and vegetables really are nature’s candy and if we can get to the point where our taste buds are no longer warped (by slowly decreasing the amount of sugar we use to flavor them) we’ll be able to enjoy their natural sweetness.

-If I do need a little extra sweet, here’s what I’ll opt for in lieu of white sugar: organic raw honey, pure maple syrup, dates and Stevia. A little goes a long way and I’ll find that you usually won’t need that much. Fruit is also a fun way to sweeten food- bananas, pears, tropical fruit and apples (or applesauce) are especially sweet.

-Spices > sugar. If I can add a spice (like cinnamon or nutmeg!) instead of sugar, I’ll usually roll with that.

-My prob is when it comes to baking. Even when I make vegan treats, I’ll use Sucanat (non-refined cane sugar.. but still sugar), and often organic white sugar and brown sugar. [Random nerd alert: while I’m baking, the Pilot and I will yell to each other “Don’t forget the sugahhhhhhhhhhh!” in a high-pitched British accent. I have no idea where it came from] To me, baking with Stevia isn’t worth it –it tastes like death when it’s baked, and if I want a treat, I want a TREAT- and I have yet to find a natural and healthy substitute that still tastes great. This is where I think moderation is extremely important. Sugar, and it’s evil cousin high fructose corn syrup, are in SO many packaged foods. As long as we keep an eye on our intake and determine when it’s worth it, I don’t think there’s any reason to go crazy about it.

What’s your sweetener of choice? Any tips to combat the sugar monster?

Well friends, I’m off to Zumba- I’m taking my little bro for his first time!

See ya in the morning <3



Just for fun:

Our goat dreams have possibly been crushed because we’re pretty sure our new homeowner’s association won’t allow a goat :/

Maybe I could get a penguin instead?

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  1. Ashley on April 19, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    Congrats Gina!! Super exciting!! I am currently loving raw honey for my sweetener of choice! Have you ever baked with brown rice syrup? It subs in great for maple syrup or honey, but doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels like the others do. It still has the same amount of “sugars” in it, but processes differently in the body. From the research I’ve done, it’s much less processed than HFCS and I trust it more than the back + forth opinions of agave. Lundberg [the rice company] makes it and it’s all non-gmo too! I don’t like it added on top of things, like oats or pancakes, but it’s great for baking. 🙂

    • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 12:51 am

      i’ve seen it before, but have never purchased it! thanks to you, i’ll totally give it a try 🙂

  2. J on April 19, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    First, congrats on the job, Gina!! Second, I’m about to write a novel, and for that I apologize!

    The article is interesting, but I have a hard time taking either Gary Taubes or Robert Lustig seriously. Lustig is a sensationalist, and Taubes seems reluctant to apply any real critical thinking to nutrition, as he is easily convinced by rather heretical claims (such as those on carbohydrates, expressed in the article “What if It’s All Been a Big, Fat Lie” that he linked to in the sugar article). Lustig and Taubes both have a habit of taking nuggets of truth from research findings and then distorting them to fit a certain hypothesis. Lustig, for example, has previously argued that a rise in carbohydrate consumption occurred alongside the obesity epidemic, thereby carbs- and only carbs- are responsible for obesity and all forms of them are bad for you. Uh, no. Taubes at least can distinguish between refined carbohydrates and things like whole grains and fruit.

    Furthermore, I think it does a real disservice to public health when these articles come out, highlighting whatever the evil food of the moment is rather than focusing on the underlying message- that diets should be balanced, provide appropriate energy (meaning calories) and consist of as many whole foods as possible. For the food blog community, this is less of a concern- I think most bloggers are very educated about food and put a lot of thought into what they eat- but this is not the norm. Maybe people will read this article and ditch their soda addiction, and if they do, then great. But more often, sensationalized reporting on nutrition- “sugar causes cancer!!”- just creates a lot of confusion. This doesn’t mean that I think people should advocate FOR sugar- not by any means- but Lustig misses the forest for the trees by singling out sugar as being the source of all evil, and personally, I think it’s irresponsible.

    • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 12:51 am

      AWESOME comment- thank you!
      i totally agree that it’s less of a problem in the food blog world. we tend to be more aware of our food choices and gear towards whole foods, rather than the processed stuff

      • M on April 20, 2011 at 10:26 am

        Ok so I read this article the other day at work and I agree with you!! –YES sugar isn’t health food, and YES people need to eat less of it but there is never a “one size fits all” with this kind of stuff. I don’t think it’s right to single out sugar as the only culprit. But when you want a cookie, eat a real cookie! Those of us into healthy eating don’t eat processed junk and we aren’t going to ruin our healthy eating habits by having a once a week treat of a lovingly made pretty healthy, but with some sugar in it cookie!

    • Joanna on April 20, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      Well said! Totally agree!

  3. gina on April 19, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    Congrats on the job!!! And now I am craving almond butter stuffed dates…I swear it tastes like cookies!!!!

    • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 12:49 am

      i haven’t had an AB stuffed date in wayyyy too long

  4. Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food on April 19, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    Congrats on your new job! How exciting! 🙂

    Group fitness is the best, I kinda miss however I do like having my own schedule I suppose!
    I am not a candy fan and the sweets I enjoy (baked, ice cream) tend to have fat and protein to lessen a sugar rush. I also just have small portions and eat them only every so often. 🙂

  5. Sarra on April 19, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    thank you for posting that article! i didn’t read it yet, but i watched the entire hour and a half youtube video mentioned in the article hahaha. Fascinating information!! he mentioned that drinking juice, even if it’s freshly squeezed without anything added to it, is still bad because all the fiber is removed and all your left with is fructose. i was just wondering if that will make you reconsider your juicer?


    • Sarra on April 20, 2011 at 12:06 am

      ps. i know a lot of people say he’s a sensationalist and what not, and he is very dramatic, but i believe him since he has research that backs his statements. i also believe him because he’s not pushing anything or trying to sell anything. whereas the people who claim HCFS isn’t harmful say so because they’re obviously benefiting from it. the claim that “it’s not harmful because it’s natural” is so weak.

      with that said, i don’t think people should panic and go crazy about sugar. the key to success is everything in moderation 😉

      • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 12:49 am

        i totally agree- the commercials saying high fructose corn syrup is ok are produced by the companies who make the stuff!

    • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 12:48 am

      i will NEVER break up with my juicer 🙂

  6. Lindsay on April 20, 2011 at 12:31 am

    “Don’t forget the sugaaaaaaah!!” is my new favorite phrase. I worship you guys 😛

    • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 12:47 am

      we are giant goobers haha

  7. Danielle (Shrinking and Studying) on April 20, 2011 at 12:38 am

    First, YAY! They’d have been crazy not to hire you! 🙂

    Second, I once tried to make peanut butter cookies w/ stevia not realizing that you need WAY less Stevia than you do sugar… and yeah… they were DISGUSTING. Like I still get nauseous to this day when I think of them… Thanks to that I will always bake with organic cane sugar or something of the sort… it’s just not worth the effort if your food it going to taste blah.

    I’m not a big sweet fan. My vice is definitely salty things so I never really have a huge issue.. the only two things I miss sugar on are coffee and grapefruit. For the coffee, I roll with individual packets of french vanilla stevia that I have stashed EVERYWHERE (my car, purse, backpack, coat, pockets, etc… lol). For grapefruit, I really like to sprinkle a little bit of xylitol on top. I actually prefer xylitol to stevia on anything other than coffee. 🙂

    • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 12:47 am

      french vanilla stevia?! i must find this 🙂

      • Danielle (Shrinking and Studying) on April 20, 2011 at 12:50 am

        I got mine in a box of 100-some packets from a local health food store here in little old Alberta… so I’m SURE they have them at the big health food stores somewhere down there! 🙂

        • Kelli on April 20, 2011 at 10:44 am

          Whole foods has some in packets!

  8. Kilee on April 20, 2011 at 1:20 am

    Congrats on the new job! That’s so exciting!!! It’s funny that you posted this because I just got asked at work today by a patient, what my favorite sugar substitutes are. I’m pretty much the same as you and agree that stevia tastes like death in baked good, but wonderful in coffee and tea. My friend uses xylitol in her cookies, but I haven’t tried that one yet. Refined sugar and HFCS are two are the worst culprits in the processed American diet. I don’t recommend cutting sugar out completely, because you might fall into a no-sugar then sugar-binge cycle. Instead, I recommend upping your sweet vegetables (sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, etc.) and slowly decreasing your refined sugar intake. Anyway, have a great night!

  9. Little Bookworm on April 20, 2011 at 4:41 am

    Congratulations on the new job Gina!:D

  10. Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine on April 20, 2011 at 6:52 am

    Congrats on the job Gina!! If it’s the resort I’m thinking of, I actually did a summer program there in my teenage years…they worked with a large camp program to teach young girls about health and fitness. It was awesome! I’m a big fan of stevia and maple syrup, depending what I’m using it on!

  11. Tina on April 20, 2011 at 7:09 am

    dried dates give me a nasty sugar buzz. and i just think stevia tastes weird. so if i roll with sugar, its cane sugar or nada.

  12. Colleen @ The Lunchbox Diaries on April 20, 2011 at 7:10 am

    Congrats on the job, Gina! I’m so happy for you!

  13. KM on April 20, 2011 at 7:22 am

    I love this post! My family constantly mocks me about not eating sugar by saying, “Sugar never killed anyone.” I beg to differ! I’m comforted to know that there are plenty of other people who see the dangers of a sugar overdose.

  14. Christine @ Burning It Off on April 20, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Congrats on the job! I recently gave up sugary snacks like granola bars and flavoured yogurt and I’ve even gotten used to drinking my coffee without sugar… but for baked treats, I need sugar. I hate the taste of artificial sweeteners.

  15. Joelle on April 20, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Congratulations! I bake rarely because of the sugar. I’m able to control fat easily but not the sugar. If you find the miracle ingredient, please share.
    Question about baking: do you ever use chia gel to substitute some of the fat? I try to use half yogurt or natural unsweetened applesauce and half chia gel.

  16. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat on April 20, 2011 at 8:10 am

    CONGRATULATIONS on the job Gina!!!! The resort sounds like such a lovely place to work. I can’t wait to hear more about it!
    Regarding sugar, I’m on a mission to reduce the amount of artificial sweetener in my diet. I also saw that article via Twitter yesterday and agree with what it said. For me, artificially sweetened products were something I turned to when I was losing weight, and even though they worked, I knew they weren’t good for me. Now I’m trying to substitute with natural sweeteners like stevia, honey, and agave, and I find that slowly reducing the amounts that I add to things makes my tastebuds more sensitive. Now, I find I don’t need as much as I used to in order to notice the sweetness. It’s definitely a long process though – I’ve still got lots of work to do!

  17. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on April 20, 2011 at 8:10 am

    Congrats on the job! It sounds like it’ll be an amazing place to work! 😀

    I don’t find I need sweetener for everyday things like oatmeal and smoothies, but for baking I usually just roll with what the recipe calls for. I figure I’m not going to be eating the entire plate of cookies, so a little sugar won’t kill me. Plus, while I do believe that sugar isn’t good for us, I don’t think it’s the main culprit for obesity – I think that overconsumption of food in general is. So I still like to use sugar, but just in moderation.

  18. Kathleen on April 20, 2011 at 8:17 am

    You have to try coconut sap sugar-it works exactly and tastes exactly like brown sugar imo. I am 100% off refined sugar now.

    • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 10:27 am

      good to know, i’ll be on the lookout for it!

  19. Linz on April 20, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Congrats on the new job, it sounds amazing!

  20. Nicole @ Fresh & Fit on April 20, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Congrats on your new job! How exciting!

    Baking is really the only place I use sugar too. I recently veganized my mom’s traditional banana bread recipe. In addition to taking out the eggs and butter, I cut the amount of sugar in half, and they turned out tasting just like the original! Next time I’m going to cut the sugar back even more!
    Another trick I use is to replace butter or oil with applesauce. Since applesauce is sweet I can cut back on the sugar. It’s not perfect answer, but it is decreasing sugar intake!

  21. congrats on your job!!! oh i cant wait to hear all about it 🙂

  22. J @ I Don't Eat Standing Up on April 20, 2011 at 8:42 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about your goat! 🙁 I have plans to move to a farm in about a year and will be raising Nigerian Dwarf Goats (soo cute). Maybe I can mail you some goat cheese! 😉

  23. Dana Marie on April 20, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Congrats on the job. I was wondering if you could give some advice since you move so much. I am going to have to move back to Florida and I don’t have my mom’s help with the use of her car this time. Do you think that renting a car is the cheapest option? Do you have any other ideas?

    • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 10:26 am

      do you have a lot of stuff? if so, i’d rent a small u-haul. if not, a car should be totally fine

      • Dana Marie on April 20, 2011 at 11:35 am

        it always seems like a lot of stuff- but a u haul is like 900 bucks and I dont feel like my stuff is worth it – I’m gonna end up throwing away mucho stuff

  24. Claire @ Live and Love to Eat on April 20, 2011 at 8:48 am

    I have avoided all added sugars for Lent, and think I will continue with the exception of baked goods. If I’m indulging in a high calorie treat (especially a sweet one), I can justisy something that’s homemade and from real ingredients.

  25. Chelsa on April 20, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Congrats on the job because you deserve it. When it comes to sugar I haven’t had much in years until very recently I’ve been on a sweets kick. I was just saying yesterday that I need to get off the sweets because it’s causing problems. This post was a good reminder that I am making the right choice. Thanks.

  26. Sarah on April 20, 2011 at 8:55 am

    bahahaha that penguin is hilarious!

    Yay for your new job!

  27. Vicki on April 20, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Congratulations on your new job! How exciting!

    To me, sugar is sugar. Whether it be cane sugar, HCFS, agave, brown rice syrup..

    Basically I don’t add sugar to my food on an everyday basis. Like you mentioned, I use fruit or cinnamon instead. However, when I’m baking I don’t see the point in subbing sugar for sweetener or anything else. If I want a sugary treat, it will be a proper sugary treat!

  28. Amber L on April 20, 2011 at 9:07 am

    Congratulations on your new job!! That is awesome!! Sounds like a perfect fit for you. 🙂

  29. Suzanne on April 20, 2011 at 9:22 am

    CONGRATS, Gina!

    I know you have a ton of readers, so I’m not even sure if you see any of my posts. But, just wanted to show you some love! <3

    I find your posts very helpful (and enjoyable). I am addicted to sugar, and I'm finding it very difficult to 'quit.' So your tips and advice are much appreciated.

    And Bella reminds me of Chubby (my bichon who lives with my parents)! So seeing her face every morning on your blog makes my day. 🙂

    • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 10:25 am

      hey girl,
      i read every single of one my comments and respond to all of the questions. 🙂
      thanks so much for reading and for the comment love! <3
      bella would probably love playing with chubby 🙂

  30. Jen Correa on April 20, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Congratulations on the new job. You are very lucky that your job allows you the ability to do what you love. RE: the article on sugar – I actually use Splenda. I need to switch to Stevia but it is very expensive unfortunately.

  31. bonnie on April 20, 2011 at 9:29 am

    congrats on the job!!!
    very interesting article.

  32. bonnie on April 20, 2011 at 9:29 am

    congrats on the job!!!
    very interesting article. i use a lot of the same sweetners … honey, stevia

  33. bonnie on April 20, 2011 at 9:31 am

    congrats on the job!!!
    very interesting article. i use a lot of the same sweetners … honey, stevia and agave. i don’t bake too often. i’ll make a raw treat here and there and use agave or dates for most of those.

  34. Chelsea M on April 20, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Congrats on the new job Gina! I know how tough the job market can be so I’m happy you found something you’re looking forward to. I’ve been lurking on your blog for a few weeks and I must say I love reading about your life with your adorable Bella and cute Pilot!

    I also read that article and as a nurse I feel like I should know more about those things but I am truly addicted to Splenda (I know it’s a terrible alternative, I’m trying to switch to stevia). I love using honey in my oatmeal or tea and fresh fruit. I may not be perfect with my sugar intake but I’m working on it!

  35. Alex on April 20, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Can you tell us where the job is? Being from Tucson, I am extra curious!!

    • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 10:24 am

      sorry but no- for safety reasons, i don’t usually say the names of the exact places where i work

  36. Dani on April 20, 2011 at 10:16 am

    i roll with the raw honey also. i use it in baking too to replace sugar, i just don’t use as much.

  37. Amanda on April 20, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Congrats on the job!!

  38. rebecca lustig on April 20, 2011 at 11:27 am

    CONGRATS! You deserve the job!

    I tend to turn to dried fruit for something ‘naturally sweet’! but dark chocolate is my drug of choice…

  39. Gloria on April 20, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    I get the NY Times every Sunday just to do the crossword. I rarely actually read the articles, but this was one that caught my attention. Amen to maple syrup and stevia! And then I found THIS exercise article right before it: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17exercise-t.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=whats%20the%20best%20exercise?&st=cse I felt very intellectual reading the newspaper 🙂

  40. Jessica @ Healthy Dairyland on April 20, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    I read that same NYT article the other day. Scary stuff. I’m so torn with sugar and sugar replacements. I try to always use organic sugar, maple syrup, or agave. Lately I’ve been using a lot of spices rather than sweeteners. I guess I’ll just have to aim for sugar in moderation.

  41. Beth @ DiningAndDishing on April 20, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Very interesting topic! I agree with you that when it comes to treats, it’s best to just go for the real thing – in moderation. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with most any (real) food including sugar as long as it is enjoyed as a special treat, not a many-times-daily ritual.

  42. Arianna on April 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Congratulations girl! SO excited for you! 🙂

  43. Dee on April 20, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Sugar is a major problem for me, it makes me sad thinking about it. I’m so addicted, however I am currently successfully detoxing from it. Slowly but surely. I’ve found that adding a small amount of honey to a baking recipe, like 1/8 of a cup, depending, is just sweet enough and helps retrain my palate. I still miss sugar though and my favorite purveyors of it. I just tell myself this is probably how cocaine addicts and alcoholics feel, too. It really works to make me walk away from a dessert, to compare myself to a drug addict! “Don’t be a crack-head, Dee”. LOL!

  44. andrea on April 20, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    whats wrong with high fructose corn syrup i googled it and cant really find the answer?

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