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‘Carrots ‘N’ Cake’ – A Liveblogged Book Review

Happy Friday, hamcats! Are you American hams ready to celebrate this nation by shotgunning PBR and acquiring sparkler related injuries? Too bad. Because this week we are going on a journey of healthy food, exercise, and alcohol restraint with Tina Haupert‘s ‘Carrots ‘N’ Cake: Healthy Living One Carrot and Cupcake at a Time’. So restrict yourself to one beer, hide the cookies, and then dust off those treadmills as we learn how a healthy living blogger keeps herself in blogging shape.

The most literal book cover ever.

The most literal book cover ever.

First impressions: *pops tab on first beer* Bring it, Tuna.

The Introduction details how Tuna Helper started her blog. Basically she wanted to look bonkers hot for her wedding (which was 19 months away) and, inspired by KERF, began her own blog. She goes on for a while about how she came up with the name for her blog, and how she knew she “had something different to offer” the blog world. She also had a ton of free time after she wrapped up wedding planning because her fiance was into fantasy football or something and she needed to “fill the extra hours”.

Chapter 1 is ‘Cookie Friday‘ and she starts off by saying it’s her favorite day because the weekend is starting. But mainly she likes Friday because she allows herself a “splurge”. It could “be any treat” that’s around 500 calories. She blathers on about how she eats a huge salad for lunch to fill herself up without a lot of calories, and then starts talking about how much she loves cookies. Because baking cookies or brownies or whatever and then letting her eat as much as she wanted was how her mom bonded with her. But this made her Type-A self turn to food as a way to deal with stress, and you guys omg it took her YEARS to stop that and now that she’s super healthy she can wait to celebrate on Friday with her one treat.

Chapter 2 is ‘Date Night‘. Tina loves Date Night. She loves it so much she begins talking about it with her husband “from the time we wake up that morning”.

And we ask the question, “Are you excited for Date Night?: over and over again, all day long.

They have a long history of date nights, you see. It started when they were dating, and would go on dates. They started going on dates in high school, and became boyfriend and girlfriend, and continued going on dates. Then they both went off to college but they stayed in touch. Then at some point they went on a date again and “sparks flew”, so a few weeks later they went on more dates. They discovered they are perfect for each other because she likes the cupcake frosting and he likes the actual cake part.

They moved in together and she began cooking for him, because her mother insisted on sit down meals growing up? Not really sure what that little aside has to do with making oatmeal for your man, but ok. Anytunas, she tells us she will “eat anything” which every man loves to hear, and she’s “definitely the more adventurous eater” in the relationship. But Date Night this week is at an Italian restaurant and Tina has planned for this “indulgence” by keeping her calories low all day and getting in a lot of cardio before dinner.

They have been “looking forward to Date Night all day long”, and now it’s time to get ready for Date Night. Tina makes “an effort to look nice on our Date Nights”, wearing something “formfitting” because tight clothes help her eat in moderation on Date Night. She doesn’t let herself “get carried away” even on Date Night. She eats more calories than usual but it’s ok because she did it “the right way” by “saving up calories” for the meal. She closes the chapter by providing you with suggestions of what to eat during the day so you can cram your face (but not too much) during your big Date Night dinner out.

Chapter 3 is called ‘Strength Training Is Not Extra Credit‘. Tina begins by informing us that just because it’s Sunday doesn’t mean she’s not working out. Because “Sunday is not a day of rest!” So it’s off for strength training because she likes to wake up sore on Monday morning. Personally I’d rather wake up sore the morning after Date Night, but maybe that’s just me. She goes into how she did a 12 week “Bridal Boot Camp” leading up to her wedding but it took six weeks to see results. She likes to listen to “classic rock” when she’s “lifting” and she does this three times a week.

Chapter 4 is ‘Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind‘ and it’s about how she and her husband have separate food pantries. She puts her food in clear containers so she doesn’t forget she has wheat berries, and totally unlike most married couples in a thing that she acts like is unique to them, they go grocery shopping once a week to make sure they have food in the house. She advises keeping your healthy foods in clear containers on a shelf you can easily reach and hiding unhealthy foods so you forget they exist. The chapter ends with a recipe for…mixing granola into yogurt.

Now we have ‘Becoming Accountable‘, which is Chapter 5. Tina tells  us she used to get on her scale all the time, but then one day they moved to a new place and it didn’t fit in the bathroom. So she tossed it. Of course it wasn’t that simple: she had agonized over the scale numbers if she put on a couple of pounds, wondering “What would my readers think?” because for a blogger that’s really all that matters. I mean, she “was the gal who found my ‘happy weight’ through healthy moderation” but there she was, worrying about her weight. So she didn’t tell her readers about #thestruggle until she realized she is a beacon of inspiration and keeping it real, and owed it to her readers to be honest. They would love her for it! They would be supportive! She WOULD be “authentic and honest”! Anyweights, at this point she just threw out her scale, which I guess is the point of that story.

Then she starts yammering about how she barely ate in college, and then after college she chunked up with an office job, pizza, and too many happy hours. So she resigned from that job and took a job with less pressure and less money so she could have time to go work out at the gym. She stopped eating her body weight in pizza and pilsner and started eating salads. If you can figure out the point in all this please tell me, because I have no idea why she’s sharing a journey that pretty much every post-college person goes through as if she discovered some lost Sumerian text that explains the true name of God. She ends the chapter with a recipe for blueberry bran muffins.

Chapter 6 is ‘Maintaining My Weight: What Works‘. Apparently after mildly porking out on Date Night food and wine and hitting the gym on Sunday she’s back in action on Monday “looking to get myself back on track”. She has no problem indulging but she has to “make sure I indulge within reason” which is sort of not what indulge means.

Anymoderation, she looks back on the weekend and realizes she had a lot of carbs. Not that that bothers her. But she had too many bad carbs. Then suddenly she is talking about attending a food blogger festival “eating and drinking my little heart out” but still made sure to exercise away “all of the splurges” because she didn’t want to spend her fun trip “stressing out about calories”. Out of nowhere she’s talking about how “before I lost more than twenty pounds” she tried the Atkins diet for a whole month but it made her cranky. So she binged on carbs, which made her realize she likes eating carbs. But now her carbs are “low-calorie salad” which is totally the same as nachos I guess. She created what she calls a “three-quarters rule” for salads meaning 3/4 is leafy greens and the rest is “fun ingredients” and gets her dressing on the side, and she makes different salads every day. Now she never feels “like I’m depriving myself”. Then she ends with recipes for…salads.

Paying Attention‘ is the name of Chapter 7, and Tuna begins with the most excrutiatingly boring story of Christmas shopping with her sister that can be imagined. We’re talking a minute by minute breakdown of shopping for decorations and then going to Kohl’s. Then they are like omg STARVATION CITY so they go get a pizza. They each shove a slice into their salad holes but then Tuna is like…wait, I didn’t even taste that! So she gets to the point of all of this, which is eat your food slowly. Then she subwhines about how you “have to go out of your way to get a small size” when you dine out because America wants you to get a large everything. Well Tina’s not falling for that. She gets the small or child portions and that’s more than enough to fill her up, you supersizing pigs. She suggests you drink water with your meal, pause before your first bite and then put your fork down every few bites, I guess to drink some water. But make sure you “enjoy the splurge”! Because nothing says splurge like picking at your food and guzzling water. Then there’s a recipe for turkey burgers in case you can’t figure out how to make a burger out of ground turkey meat and tomatoes.

Chapter 8 is ‘Cravings And The Dreaded Binge‘. The entire first three pages of this chapter is an over-detailed account of how she baked pumpkin muffins one morning, complete with a Tolkien-worthy paragraph long description of the streaming sunlight and steam from the muffins. She then mentions “munching on my first muffin” which makes my inner 12 year old boy snortlol, before talking about how she prepares a second muffin for “its photo shoot”. This takes another entire paragraph as she describes the white plate she selects for its presentation, and how she positions it in natural sunlight. She eats four muffins in all and then comes “to my senses” and darts out of the kitchen to escape further temptation. She then returns and packs the remaining muffins in a container and hides them from herself.

Then she suddenly starts talking about how athletic she’s always been and how that allowed her to not pay attention to calories for a long time. She then tells us “a lot of my success came with not being so hard on myself” when it comes to food.

wut

Then she talks about “sharing the struggle” with her readers. It’s a bunch of self-indulgent blogger woo about how she shows them she’s “a real person who is relatable” and she doesn’t “resent the blog or consider stopping” just because she might over indulge and gain a few pounds. She thinks her readers appreciate it because “it helps them too”.

She now shares her tips to avoid overeating, which are eat enough during the day, keep “trigger” foods out of the house, stay hydrated because you’re not hungry you’re just thirsty, and “just don’t start”. Meaning, don’t even pick up that brownie because you’ll eat 12. Of course if you do binge, you can be like Tina and head to the gym and “run for 45 minutes on the treadmill” and “think about the muffins and the caloric ‘damage'” you’ve done. You’ll feel awesome for doing “something good” for your body “after doing something ‘bad'” to it “by eating too many muffins”. Everything so far sounds totally healthy and not disordered at all! Sign me up! She ends the chapter with the recipe for those Satanic pumpkin muffins.

And now before Chapter 9, which is ‘Happy Hour‘, it’s time for an intermission during which I will show Tina ‘No More Than Three Glasses Of Wine’ Haupert how to properly enjoy one glass of wine.

See? I only need ONE glass of wine.

See? I only need ONE glass of wine.

So with this chapter, Tina begins by telling us she is “not one to pass up a cocktail” but she does not “condone binge drinking”. She’s been drunk “plenty of times” but she never lost control of herself or blacked out, so someone give her a medal I guess. She’s always been “really responsible” when she drinks and capable of good decisions. Then she starts talking about how when she’s drunk she makes bad decisions and eats crap and one time was so drunk she dropped her new camera into a glass of beer, which is the epitome of being in control.

Then the holier than thou lecture about how she never has more than three drinks begins. It seems to be partly a control freak thing until she gets to the point: empty calories. If she has more than three drinks or a shot she can’t say no to pizza and she doesn’t want to “waste my calories” by drinking. She sounds like the first person to take to a bar night, you bet. She will alternate water with her wine (who doesn’t do that at a bar? how is this brand new information?) to “save my calories”.

Then she starts talking about how she spent Friday and Saturday nights in college drinking because Greek life, but one time she had three whole packages of Easy Mac after a party and remembering this makes her want to like omg totes hurl. You guys don’t get it, she could drink like 8 drinks sometimes like after finals or whatever. Grody to the max, right? The point of all of this is that you, too, should stay three or fewer drinks under or you will wind up eating chicken fingers and grilled cheese sandwiches –  in your pajamas while watching ‘Spies Like Us’ for example like this chick I know does every Friday night after Book Club. She closes the chapter with lower calorie drink ideas like a Pimm’s Cup.

Nothing about it sounds happy to me.

Nothing about it sounds happy to me.

Chapter 10 is ‘Girl Stuff‘ and kicks off with paragraph after paragraph of Tina going to a social gathering at a friend’s house and how she manages to eat and drink as little as possible. Her friend has the full Sex And The City cocktail spread – cosmos, lemon drops, and flirtinis. Tuna Helper helps herself to a flirtini and then carries it around, presumably not drinking it at first, while she obsesses over what food she will or won’t eat. Then she takes 3 sips of her drink and gets a nice buzz, but she’s ok – see, she has been exercising hard in anticipation of tonight’s “splurge” (of…one drink, I guess). Then she shares her party rule: if it’s not healthy she doesn’t try it. So she winds up spending the party with the one drink and a small plate of healthy options like she’s a supermodel on vacation going calorie cray cray.

Whiplash story time again, she’s now talking about how she has never had much self-confidence and never felt like she fit in because she always had big boobs on a skinny body – which, as you know, is the antithesis of what is revered in American beauty culture, but it made her uncomfortable with her body so I won’t snark on her feelings about it. Finally she got boob reduction surgery and I say good for her! I am personally a supporter of plastic surgery and cosmetic alteration when there’s a self-esteem or physical comfort issue at play, and I think it’s cool that she talks about this part of her life…even though I don’t get what it has to do with going to a party and not eating a lot. She closes the chapter with a recipe for edamame guacamole.

The Cookie Swap‘ is Chapter 11, and starts off explaining that a cookie swap is when a bunch of people get together and bring different kinds of cookies for everyone to eat. It also has Tina saying she spent the night before at the gym “to get a head start on the cookie calories”. Then it’s more of Tina at a social gathering trying to “keep my cool with the food”. Unfortunately she sampled too much and she could “swear my pants felt tighter and my thighs grew”. And to add to the horror this was happening right in front of other bloggers. Can you EVEN? She was one of the first people to leave because she “didn’t want to be tempted any longer”, and she was “depressed on the ride home”. Because she ate cookies. She had to give herself a pep talk when she got home. Because she ate cookies. After that she vowed to document “every single morsel” she ate on her blog so she would be accountable and never ever eat ten whole cookies in one day again.

Because Tina knows that no matter how much she works out the calories she burns through exercise “will never equal the cookie calories” she takes in. Then she says she loves exercise and fitness, but she’s “not obsessive about it”. Then she explains that she learned she indulges in sweets when they’re around. So the solution, apparently, is to not be around free piles of sweets. If she is forced to be around Lucifer’s Cellulite Creators she practices finding a distraction and reminding herself over and over of the “consequences”. The chapter ends with a recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies.

 Chapter 12 is ‘Sundays With Mal‘ and Tina starts off by saying she has “very little free time” because between work and being married she is “on the go from dawn till dusk”. So she spends Sunday morning (before or after the strength training?) eating pancakes with her husband, and then does her meal planning for the week on Sunday afternoons. Well that was a thrilling chapter. She ends with a recipe for homemade iced coffee.

Chapter 13 is ‘The Most Important Meal Of The Day‘. It’s apparently about breakfast, and how you should eat breakfast so you’re not sitting around hungry while you go to the gym and then write blog posts. Then she talks about how she photographs her breakfast for her blog – she uses colorful placemats and “an appealing background” to create “a nice scene for my banana oatmeal pancake and iced coffee”. The chapter ends with a recipe for oatmeal pancakes.

Chapter 14 is ‘Murphy, Mal, And Me‘ and it’s a bunch of slobbering about her pug dog. Apparently her longing for a pug dog was a pain for her husband because they would have to move to a place that allowed pets. But eventually she convinced her husband she needed a pug, and she “researched pug breeders” on the internet before driving out to some town in Massachusetts and buying Murphy. Then they had to find a new place to live so they could bring Murphy home. Which is obviously the order in which to do things when buying a dog from some breeder in another town, because why sort out your living arrangements and look into adoption? Pug or bust, betches. Anyselfish, they “frantically” searched Craigslist and finally found a place and wound up in a butthole of a place, but hey, pug. Then they moved again to less of a butthole place. But apparently her pug saved her sanity because Boston winters can suck cans, though she finally got a daylight lamp to help with her winter blues. The chapter closes with a recipe for vanilla mini cupcakes, which I assume Tuna Helper licked the frosting from before handing the soggy cake portion to her husband.

Chapter 15 is ‘Getting Off The Couch‘ and it’s basically Tina saying she has “always been an active person” but it wasn’t until she spoke with Oprah Winfrey’s friend/fitness person that she realized exercise is as simple as getting off the couch to…do stuff. I wish I were kidding but this is pretty much all the chapter is about, stop sitting and do stuff.

Chapter 16 is ‘…And The Rest Will Follow‘. Tina yodels about joining her first gym at 16 (in case you forgot she has “always been an active person”) and tells us when it comes to gyms, “luxury helps”. See, Tuna goes to “an upscale all-women’s gym” and it has a full-service spa, is “gorgeous”, and “even the bath products in the locker room are nice”. Evidently being surrounded by such fitness luxury inspired her to “pursue a career change to become a personal trainer”, though she decided in the end that it wasn’t for her. Instead she got a job in the Harvard School of Public Health, and finally had time to post three times a day and “comment on other people’s blogs, which helped market mine” because “readers would click through” to her blog. Livin’ the dream, people!

But eventually she had to have a bunch of talks with her cake loving man about her goals. She would “always end…in tears” because she “didn’t have enough time for the blog”. But she “couldn’t give up on my dream”. But then her blog started to take off. She then quit her job at Harvard and got a job with some company called NuVal, and then celebrated with pumpkin muffins. On a Friday, I assume. This long pointless How I Became A Blogger narrative ends with a recipe for pumpkin carob muffins.

Chapter 17 is ‘Travel Eats‘ and its pretty much just Tina saying pack your own food for trips.

The final Chapter 18 is ‘Happily Ever After?‘ and it’s more of Tina ruminating on her blog and how awesomely successful she is, and how she loves what she does, in that way only married women with a fallback husband income can really do. The book ends with Tina wondering if she can really be happy only doing her blog. Boy do I feel inspired.

Overview: This is the most Jekyll/Hyde book ever. She says she doesn’t deny herself but then details the ways she denies herself. She says she’s not “obsessed” with working out, but makes sure to constantly mention how she exercises every chance she gets and reminding us how active she is. This book is apparently 4 years old so maybe this woman is different now, but at the time of this book she sounds like she had a long way to go before preaching about moderation.

Alice and Loliver say "Have a great and safe holiday weekend, see ya next week!"

Alice and Loliver say “Have a great and safe holiday weekend,
see ya next week!”