New York, New York (Part Two)

This post is a continuation of yesterday’s post, which is appropriate titled “New York, New York (Part 1)”. In it, I shared tons of pictures and discussed how I kept active during my 4-day trip to New York City last week. Click here if you missed it.

Since I’ve already discussed exercise, this post is gonna be about the other major part of health and weight loss: food. There have been times, when I’ve been traveling, where I’ve started to worry about when and what I’m going to eat, because as anyone who’s tried to lose weight knows, this shit is HARD. And it’s even harder when you have less control over your food, like you do when you’re traveling.

I’m happy because I don’t think I ever worried on this New York trip, which is thanks, I think, to the successful creation of new habits and a major shift in thinking when it comes to restaurant menus: I used to dread looking at menus, because I’d see all sorts of delicious items that I would love to eat but probably shouldn’t, and now, I consider finding healthy options on menus a fun challenge. What used to be a chore is now a game, and it’s a game I rarely lose.

My first restaurant experience in New York was on Thursday, when I met my friend Mindy for lunch. I got off the subway at Grand Central, looked up, and BAM! Realized I was right at the base of the Chrysler Building!

It was incredible seeing a building I had so recently climbed on the StairMaster up close and in person. It’s a magnificent building!

Mindy had suggested we go to BareBurger for lunch – an organic, all-natural burger place with about 10 locations throughout Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn.

I was hooked on the idea, because I glanced at their menu online before going, and saw they served game meats, including ostrich, elk, wild boar, and bison. I love trying new things – I’ve blogged about eating gator and moose before – so I was all in. Our server pointed out that, of those, elk was the leanest. I’ve only eaten elk in jerky form, so I jumped in and ordered it. Mindy had never tried ostrich, so she ordered that. We decided on sliders, so we could easily share. Here are my elk sliders, hold the cheese, special sauce on the side, with a side salad (house dressing on the side):

Mindy’s ostrich sliders looked almost exactly the same. The elk was delicious – very gamey and flavorful. The ostrich was also good, and tasted more turkey-ish, where the elk was decidedly more beef-ish.

That evening, before Alexis and I saw Gore Vidal’s The Best Man on Broadway, we grabbed a quick bite at Le Pain Quotidien, a bakery and restaurant that I’ve never been to, even though they have locations from coast to coast (including one a few miles from me in Los Angeles) and in dozens of foreign countries. This location faced Bryant Park.

Their menu had calorie counts, which is super helpful, so I ordered the roasted turkey and avocado tartine (an open-faced sandwich). It had 310 calories.

I also got a cup of gazpacho, but I didn’t notice the calorie count (gazpachos, generally speaking, are pretty healthy).

I didn’t eat that bread on the side.

The next day, while walking around with Jonathan, we ended up getting a quick and easy lunch and eating it in a little park in TriBeCa. We passed a lot of fancy restaurants that were too expensive for us, and settled on a little hole-in-the-wall deli…

…that had a salad bar.

I loaded it up with about 12 different types of veggies (those cream-colored circles near the top are hearts of palm), some low-fat Italian dressing, and lots of protein: garbanzo beans, kidney beans,  and 3 hard boiled eggs (I didn’t eat the yolks). I found beef sticks near the register that were 80 calories and 96% fat free (much leaner than other Slim-Jim-type items) so I grabbed one of those too.

On Saturday, Alexis, Maren, Eddie and I went to Chelsea Market for lunch. Chelsea Market used to be a huge Nabisco factory (it’s where the Oreo was invented), but now it houses offices, television studios, retail, and a big food court with a bunch of specialty vendors and restaurants. My nephews were transfixed by the bakers in one of the bakeries handling dough (as was I), so we watched that for a little while. For lunch, we chose a place called Hale & Hearty Soups.

Turns out Hale & Hearty has a couple dozen locations all around the city, and I’d definitely go back next time I’m in town. They offer more than a dozen soups every day – I got a cup of their tomato basil with rice (170 calories).

They also have a custom salad counter, where you pick your greens, which veggies and proteins you like, and they toss it all together with one of about 15 dressings. This is spinach, cucumber, tomato, carrots, and albacore tuna, with a little fat-free strawberry balsamic dressing:

So those were all the times I ate out, but certainly not all I ate while in New York. Alexis and Steven stock a lot of healthy food in their kitchen, so one night Alexis and I ate big salads, and on Sunday, Alexis made delicious oatmeal pancakes – I ate two, topped with peach-flavored Greek yogurt and raspberries.

One of the things I love about Steven and Alexis’ Upper East Side neighborhood is that there are a bunch of produce vendors on the street corners, and they’re pretty reasonably priced. I tucked a couple bucks into my shoes during my runs on Thursday and Friday, and afterward, I picked up fruit at the corner of 70th Street and 1st Avenue.

My favorite thing that I bought was this cute single-serving container of blueberries, which cost $1. I’ve seen them packaged like this before, have you?

On Sunday afternoon, before going to the airport, I stopped by a different vendor and picked up a pound of baby carrots and a carton of blackberries as snacks for my 5-hour-plus flight.

I also got additional fruits and veggies in my system by way of smoothie. Alexis developed a smoothie recipe that her boys love, and she makes it often, because it’s a way for the boys to eat spinach. She made it twice while I was in town. She starts for a few big handfuls of spinach in her blender, then adds mango juice, frozen strawberries, and water. They’re excellent – I’m totally stealing her recipe!

There’s one big event that I haven’t really mentioned in either of my New York posts: the wedding I attended. I wasn’t planning on blogging about the wedding at all – I don’t have to share everything in my life, after all – but both Heather and Adam, the bride and groom, are big fans of this blog, and they asked me, on separate occasions during the course of the reception, if I’d be writing about it. So, I’m gonna write about it. But just a little bit.

I first saw everyone at the rehearsal dinner, which was held at a bowling alley in Times Square (I didn’t do any bowling, because I was busy catching up with a bunch of high school friends). There was a big spread of food, and I made good choices (salad, veggies, fruit, 2 small sandwiches), with a few splurges (a few tater tots, 1 cookie).

The wedding itself was beautiful. Heather looked radiant, and their venue was fantastic – the 17th floor of a building near Union Square, which offered kick-ass views of the Empire State Building (all lit up) and the downtown skyline. The food was delicious, and, just like the rehearsal dinner, I chose well and splurged a little bit. Instead of a cake, they had hundreds and hundreds of terrific bite-sized mini cupcakes from Baked By Melissa. There were about a half-dozen varieties, and I tried one of each, but they probably didn’t add up to what a single slice of cake would’ve been.

The biggest splurge of the evening was that I drank for the first time in about a year and a half. I’ve never been a huge drinker, and when I first started losing weight, alcohol was something I could cut from my diet easily. Now I drink very, very rarely (about once every year and a half, it seems), and that’s been working just fine for me. I don’t get tempted when I’m around others drinking, and I don’t ever crave alcohol.

I knew, before I even boarded the plane for New York, that I would drink at Heather and Adam’s wedding. If there ever was an occasion to celebrate with alcohol, it’s a wedding! So, over the course of the evening, I had 2 glasses of champagne, and 2-3 glasses of white wine (it was hard to tell, the waiter would refill it before it was empty). I was definitely tipsy for a whil, which was a fun feeling, but not fun enough to do again soon. Plus, me and the dance floor became fast friends, so I burned off a lot of those calories!

I was so glad to be a part of Heather and Adam’s big day – it was an absolute blast. Here’s a picture of Heather and me that our friend Danielle took:

I don’t have a picture with Adam. Hey Adam – why don’t I have a picture with you? An answer is requested in the comments section. And it better be good!

One more quick little anecdote: As I was leaving Steven and Alexis’ place before the wedding, my 5-year-old nephew Eddie, upon seeing me all dressed up, said: “You look like a President!” That’s the first time I’ve heard that particular compliment.

Keep it up, David!

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3 Responses to New York, New York (Part Two)

  1. Adam B says:

    Hey David – glad you had a good time, and glad you got to run around NY. I’ve never been on the QBoro bridge pedestrian path myself. Since I know you like Wikipedia style trivia, here are a few: it’s recently been inexplicably renamed as the “Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge” after a former Mayor of NYC, and it’s also the titular subject of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)”

    It was good to see you, and I don’t know why we don’t have a picture together… but since I wasn’t in charge of taking pictures, I won’t take any blame either ;)

    There were actually 11 varieties of cupcakes (we had ~1650 in total, figuring ~10 equals a single piece of cake), but they are SO tiny that I agree 6 of them is pretty minuscule. I hope we were able to provide enough adequately healthy options for you and everyone else who was watching what they ate – I think we had fruit and veggies at all occasions.

    I know you are an apple connoisseur — did you get a chance to take any apples from our centerpieces? They were up for grabs, but I don’t think enough people knew to take them. I donated about 50 lbs of apples to City Harvest this morning.

    BTW – in NYC it’s the law that any restaurant with more than 10 or 15 locations must post calorie counts on their menus. I wonder if you think that’s a helpful strategy for people?

    Also there was an interesting article in NY Times this morning about the mathematics of weight loss, calorie intake, etc: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/15/science/a-mathematical-challenge-to-obesity.html?_r=1 — one interesting conclusion they have is that a one-time splurge shouldn’t hurt you bad, as your average caloric intake which is more important.

    • Adam B says:

      BTW – with the ton of leftover fruit salad I had, I tried to make some frozen fruit pops using some ice-pop molds I have. I’ll let you know how they came out.

    • David says:

      I saw signs saying “Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge” and even though I know he’s a former mayor, my mind went straight to “former judge on People’s Court,” because he did that for 2 years in the late ’90s. Yep, total TV nerd!
      ELEVEN VARIETIES OF CUPCAKES? Well, then, I definitely missed a few. I didn’t even go over to the spread – I didn’t have to, cause Raines piled up a plate for our table to share. He must’ve missed a few. And I was very impressed by the healthy options at both events – I appreciate you thinking of us health-minded folks!
      You know, I was given an apple to take home by one of the kids running around, but I didn’t eat it – it got added to my sister-in-law’s fruit bowl. Hopefully my nephews will enjoy it. But I loved the apple candles you used to distribute table seatings, and I ended up pocketing a few extras of those that were left behind by others at the end of the party.
      Curious how the fruit pops turned out – take photos, or it never happened!

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