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. Cathy on April 19, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    congratulations, gina!! that’s fantastic! maybe you need some new lulu clothes for this new gig?! so happy for you!
    i love stevia in coffee. have not tried to bake with it, so thanks for the warning. i agree that ODing on sugar is at the root of a lot of the health issues we face today.
    enjoy your evening!

  2. Parita @ myinnershakti on April 19, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I try to go the natural route with honey, organic cane sugar, fruit, etc. Question for ya – what are your thoughts on agave nectar? I’ve heard both good and bad. Just curious as to what your thoughts are.

    • Parita @ myinnershakti on April 19, 2011 at 9:22 pm

      Oh and congrats on the job! Super exciting…glad that things are falling into place for you 🙂

  3. Jessica on April 19, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I think it’s so interesting how our taste for sugar changes. When I became veg and just started eating healthier altogether, my sweet tooth drastically decreased. It came back, but I can’t even handle most of the sweets I used to be able to eat, and always opt for tart fro yo with fruit toppings not because I’m “trying” to be healthier, but because that’s all the sweet I need/can handle. I think some people would greatly benefit from lowering their processed sugar intake and experimenting with natural sweeteners!

  4. Jessica on April 19, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    and p.s. congrats on the job! When one door closes, another opens and I’m excited for you to start this new adventure!

  5. Gena on April 19, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    My personal feeling is that the video referenced in that Times piece is totally reprehensible and alarmist. Of course we should all have sugar in true moderation, but there’s no call for hysteria: most people can’t, shouldn’t, and don’t need to eliminate it from their diets altogether.


    • Fitnessista on April 19, 2011 at 9:30 pm

      i agree- it’s causing a lot of people to freak out unnecessarily

  6. Felicia (A taste of Health with Balance) on April 19, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    raw honey, dates and maple syrup for me! i usually just use stevia in yogurt, but thats about it. i never understood how people put sugar on fruit, its glorious on its own! and i love penguins, they always make me squeal 🙂

  7. Heather on April 19, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Congratulations on the new job, that’s so exciting!! And I just showed two of my friends the video and basically it is the most hilarious thing ever!! LOVE IT!!

  8. Laura J. on April 19, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Yay!! Congrats on the new job!! 🙂 Sounds like the perfect fit for you!

  9. Erica on April 19, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Try out coconut palm sugar- low glycemic, very minimally processed, and has a delicious, brown sugar-like taste. A wonderful alternative to refined sugar in baking.

  10. Little Meggles on April 19, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    I know what you could “get” instead of a goat. I think you know what I’m talking about!

  11. Lindsey on April 19, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    Congrats on the job!

    Also, as far as natural sugars go…palm sugar, honey, maple syrup, evap. cane sugar and raw sucanat are my DOC’s. I use stevia liquid in soaked oats, regular oatmeal and yogurt. I’ve tried baking with stevia before and got the same result – bitter and just not good. I try to stay away from regular table sugar as much as possible.

  12. Rachel on April 19, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    Oh my GAWD that’s the best. animal. video. EVER!!!!!

    And congratulations on getting a great job(!), but you totally just got upstaged by that penguin. 😉

  13. Cara on April 19, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Congrats on the job!! If It’s the place I hope it is, stay away from the gift shop…Its amazing!!! lol

  14. chelsey @ clean eating chelsey on April 19, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    I am definitely a believer in natural sugars. I rarely sweeten my treats, so I am usually afraid to give them to others because I knooooow their tastebuds have been warped like no other!

  15. Claire @ Un Bello Aperitivo on April 19, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Congratulations on the job! Woohoo!

    I’ve been slowly decreasing my sugar intake, and I find that I don’t need as much sugar as before to make things taste sweet. I usually use bananas or honey as a sweetener (I love dates too much to disguise them in something; I want to eat them straight up)!

  16. MMiller on April 19, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    CONGRATS Gina!! See, there was a reason for you to NOT go to Valdosta!

    • Fitnessista on April 19, 2011 at 9:30 pm

      you’re right!!

  17. Christin@purplebirdblog on April 19, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    I love how I’ve retrained my taste buds away from heavy sugar… regular soda makes my teeth hurt now it’s so sweet!!

  18. Cait @ Beyond Bananas on April 19, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Go Gina! Congrats on the job, girl!
    To sweeten, I use stevia, natural apple sauce, or mashed bananas. I totally have the same problem as you with baking. I try to avoid sugar.. and use other natural sweeteners. This weekend, I threw out three different batches of muffins.. because they were too.. not sweet!

    • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 1:00 am

      thank you! 🙂

  19. Dynamics on April 19, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    Any thoughts on Truvia? My friend just gave me a couple of packets. It looks just like sugar,

    • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 12:59 am

      i think it’s made from stevia, so it should be ok. i’ve never used it

  20. Wendy on April 19, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    I just got some Hemp protein powder and will take a drug test over the summer. I am afraid to drink it. Do you know if the hemp sway the drug test results?

    • Kelsey on April 19, 2011 at 10:58 pm

      No, you won’t have any issues on your drug test. Marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient is THC and is removed during processing (and is illegal!). The same goes for hemp bracelets and hemp seeds.

    • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 12:59 am

      nope, you’ll be totally fine

  21. Kristine @ Busy But Healthy on April 19, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    Congrats on the job! I actually saw that video about sugar last week! I like stevia a lot and find that if its the right recipe, it turns out awesome! I find any kind of sugar (honey, agave etc) makes me want more. Like a drug addiction really! A little bit of the real stuff isn’t bad…but most people don’t practice moderation, and many times people think honey/agave, etc is healthy, so they put it in everything…oatmeal, smoothies, baking….

  22. Jenny (Fit Girl Foodie) on April 19, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    My sister in law showed me that same youtube video!! It makes me want a penguin so bad 😀 Congrats on getting the job girl, you definitely deserve it. As for sweetener of choice I use splenda although I know it’s less than perfect

  23. Annie@stronghealthyfit on April 19, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    I try to use sugar alternatives too (honey, maple syrup, agave, date sugar, applesauce) when baking and sweetening other things (coffee, tea). I started to wean myself off of sugar a bit a couple of years ago when I realized I had a serious sugar addiction. I started eating more dried fruit rather than chocolate or candy-like things (I’d already lost my taste for actual candy for the most part). Then I started paying attention to whether or not my dried fruit was sweetened, and started eating dark chocolate. Now I can eat unsweetened chocoalate and it feels like a treat! Sugar is definitely a drug if you ask me 🙂

  24. TiffanyS on April 19, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    I use Truvia and I love it! It is calorie free and all natural. It tastes like sugar and does not have a bad after taste.

  25. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) on April 19, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Congrats on the new job! Sounds like an amazing, high end place, and being expected to teach all kinds of diff classes will, as you said, make you a better instructor. So cool!

    Sugar. I use white and brown sugar in baking b/c as you said, it’s not worth it to me to bake with stevia b/c I just dont think the results taste that great. Dessert is a treat, so I treat myself with REAL sugar. I also eat mostly plants, exercise, drink water, and use a moderation is your friend attitude across the board with life. So a little sugar, not a biggie, IMO.

    I do like stevia on it’s own in say coffee, but just not BAKED into things. I also use agave, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, dates, you name it, creativity is key!

  26. Megan (The Runner's Kitchen) on April 19, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    oof, i wish i had more tips on avoiding excess sugar, but i have a serious sweet tooth. i’ve been trying to satisfy it with intense flavors – really dark chocolate, spicy desserts with cayenne, etc. that seems to help a bit!

  27. Allie (Live Laugh Eat) on April 19, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    Congrats on the job, Lady!! I interned at a health resort/spa a couple years ago. Love the atmosphere. I can say for sure you’ll rock that job!

  28. Jamie@Healthywalk on April 19, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Oh my goodness, I adore that video! I saw it last week and every time I’m in a crummy mood, I watch it. I want a penguin!

    Congrats on the job! That will be so awesome for you and I can’t wait to read about your adventures!

    I usually use sugar, but I try to cut back. If I’m having a treat like fruit, I generally don’t add sugar. I love to add cinnamon to my treats, too!

  29. Lisa on April 19, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    I just go ahead and use sugar when baking & honey or agave in coffee & tea. Congrats on your job; I knew you would get it! I need that smoothie; never tried that combo before. Love penguins & puffins.

  30. Maren on April 19, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Congrats on the job Gina! I use stevia and cinnamon and eat lots of fruit to tame my wild beast of a sweet tooth!! …I gave up sugar for Lent, so these have been my only options! But I find that I am okay with not having so much sugar! It’s pretty awesome!

  31. Jess on April 19, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Congrats on the job and thanks for posting about this article! I read it on Saturday and have been thinking ever since about whether to bring it up on my blog or in conversation. I never like to sound alarmist, but I’ve felt the same way as the author for a long time. That said, I eat foods with sugar—I really believe that enjoying a small amount of something sweet in moderation is totally fine.

    However, what concerns me is all the added sugar in commercial food. Yeah, you can advise someone to avoid sweets, but it’s also important to take into account the sugar in products like almond milk, bread, cereal, etc. It seems backwards to me that it should be an effort to find unsweetened foods but it is!

    As for avoiding excess sugar, I found that giving up diet soda helped a lot! I find I’m much more satisfied by naturally sweet foods now that I’m not so hooked on the hyper-sweet fake stuff. Spices are also your best friend.

  32. Vivianne on April 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Oh my gosh this blog post is so weird to me because I JUST read that article yesterday and I JUST watched that penguin video today! My boyfriend posted it on my wall.

    Scary! I loved the post though. I usually don’t sweeten things, but when I sweeten my tea sometimes I use organic rock sugar from Teavana (;

  33. Beth on April 19, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Congrats on the job!! I am planning to make the ballz soon. I looked at the recipe and 2 quick questions: You said drippy almond butter… which brand is “drippiest”? Also, do you keep them in the fridge or are they OK on the counter?

    • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 12:57 am

      most creamy types are drippy when you first open them. i like the trader joe’s brand with sea salt, but really any type will work!
      i store mine in the fridge in a sealed container

  34. sarah (sarah learns) on April 19, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    congratulations on the new job!!!! i’m so happy for you! plus, you’ll be fabulous at it. they’re lucky to have you!

  35. Libby on April 19, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    I recently started trying to eat the Sugar Busters! diet after my mom was diagnosed pre-diabetic and that diagnosis went away after only a week of watching her sugar intake. Because we have the same genes (I’m essentially a clone) and she’s back to what she weighed in high school just by cutting sugar out of her diet and not limiting anything else, I decided to hop on the band wagon. The diet cuts out sugar, processed carbs, and corn because these are all high glycemic foods. Potatoes are a no go as well. As an athlete it’s really hard to do this, and as a consumer of food in general it’s also really hard because evaporated cane juice is in EVERYTHING. It’s glucose that’s bad, while lactose and fructose are okay in moderation. Sugar Busters! emphasizes the fact that our ancestors who didn’t have all these western diets weren’t consuming foods the way we are. They didn’t eat sugar–all the sweetness came from fruit. All grains where whole grains, and the corn they ate had smaller kernels so there was enough fiber to balance to keep the insuline spike at bay.

    I opt for agave nectar as a sweetener in baking. Because it’s a liquid and not crystalline it makes the cookies chewier (I like a little tooth in my cookies) but it’s a low glycemic choice that doesn’t change the flavor all that much.

    • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 12:56 am

      our ancestors also didn’t have the diseases we have in our culture today. it’s very saddening

  36. Barbara on April 19, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    congratulations on the new job, sounds like a lovely place! on another note, any possibility of an opensky deal on those glass straws?

    • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 12:55 am

      not anytime soon- they stopped supplying to opensky 🙁

  37. Ashley @ Feeding Ashley on April 19, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Awww sorry about the goat! The job sounds like a ton of fun, congratulations! I tired recently to give up sugar but I broke yesterday. I have a major sweet tooth.

  38. Alison (Fueling for Fitness) on April 19, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Congrats on the job! I try as well to bake without sugar (borrowing the sugar from mashed bananas, etc)… but a lot of my baking experiments are usually flops (or good, but not satisfying enough and don’t even come close to comparing to the “real stuff”). 🙁

  39. Laurie on April 19, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    Sugar is sugar is sugar whether it’s organic, refined, or honey! I do think the body processes/deals with HFCS differently but the rest is metabolically the same. There are some slight % diff in agave (more fructose), etc and I won’t get into it 😉 I am just saying that granulated sugar = same as $$ organic stuff to your body. However, it is nicer to the environment yay! I can’t wait to read the article…..thanks for the link. And congrats on your job!!!

    • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 12:54 am

      that’s the only reason why i buy organic- it’s better for the environment and i like to support organic farmers 🙂
      thank you!

  40. Mindy on April 19, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Congrats on the job – it sounds like such a great opportunity!!

    Thanks for the article. I’ve never really added sugar to anything except baked goods or indian sweet dishes…my sugar fix usually comes from chocolate, or lately just fruit such as atulfo(sp?) mangoes. For like two weeks I had one almost everyday because they are so yummy and meaty and satisfying…I hope it was healthy to do that, haha.

    If I really need to add sweetener to something (sometimes my oatmeal if I don’t have bananas to add) I use agave nectar, but that is rare. I’ve been reading a lot about liquid stevia on some vegan blogs and stuff but that stuff is super expensive!!!

  41. Courtney @ Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life on April 19, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Congratulations on the job! It sounds like it’s going to be quite the gig! 🙂
    I used to be quite addicted to splenda in my morning coffee. I tried getting rid of sweetener all together, but that wasn’t happenin’. So now I use Truvia and actually really like it!

  42. caryn on April 19, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    congratulations on the job! whoohooooooo!!!!! & you NEED that penguin! it is way too cute not to belong to you. just picture it frolicking with bella. 🙂 lol

    • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 12:53 am

      omg, it would be the cutest thing ever

  43. Holly @ The Runny Egg on April 19, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    So sad that your goat dreams may not come true 🙁

    I do use regular old sugar in baking, but other than that I don’t use much sweetener throughout the day.

  44. Kate on April 19, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Congrats on your new job!

    I have such a hard time with sugar unfortuately. It isn’t a bad as it used to be but I still like to bake a lot 🙂 I try to make things at least a bit more healthier but I don’t want it to taste like crap as well. I use sucanat & maple syrup mostly if I can’t sweeten things with dates or fruit. Also, I rarely use ap flour.

    I did go two weeks without all sugar (even fruit) and it really did reset my tastebuds. Banana soft serve or a banana and almond butter are my go-to desserts and I am satisfied with that.

    I think sugar is definitely okay in moderation but I see so many friends of mine eat packaged foods filled with sugar and they don’t even realise it. Or care. The sugar highs and lows are awful too. I feel so horrible if I eat a bunch which deters me a little 🙂

  45. Katie on April 19, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    Woohooooo! Congrats again love ! I know I tweeted you a congrats, but had to come here too!

    I still need to make those balls! I have a food processor now!!!! Woot Woot!

    xoxo <3

  46. Allison @ Food For Healing on April 19, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    congrats! i hope to be as successful as you one day

    • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 12:52 am


  47. Bex @ Bex Blog on April 19, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    That smoothie looks delish!

    What is the difference between a salad and a salad beast?

    AND…that penguin is ADORABLE. I want one! Too bad no pet goat though 🙁

    • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 12:52 am

      a salad fits in a normal-sized bowl, a beast is often served in a family of 4 serving bowl and has more than 4 ingredients 😉

  48. Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf on April 19, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    I totally agree with you on the sugar! In my house I keep grade B maple syrup, raw local honey, sucanat, dates, and agave nectar around. I don’t tend to use sweeteners in every day stuff. Just baking and desserts. I also try to reduce the overall amount I use, since I tend to use applesauce as an oil replacement, which already adds natural sweetness. For normal everyday sweets, I reach for fruit, and I do like to have a small piece of 70% dark chocolate every day to keep my sugar cravings at bay. 😉

    • Fitnessista on April 20, 2011 at 12:52 am

      i have dark chocolate every morning, and it totally helps my sugar cravings too 🙂

  49. Ashlee on April 19, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Congrats on the job! Obviously no names for privacy and safety reasons. The health resorts in Tucson are top notch. My step Mom taught at Miraval, loved sneaking in and taking advantage of the amenities!

  50. Liz on April 19, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Congrats on the job!!

    I don’t worry too much about my sugar intake because I eat hardly any processed foods – I haven’t even eat any today! The treats I eat are baked by me, baked by someone I know, or have an ingredient list with all ingredients that I have in my kitchen pantry. Everything in moderation!!

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