October 30, 2008

Starbucks, Smoothies, and Perfection

Image: bbaunach

I really envy people with the ability to 'just do it,' as the Nike phrase goes. When I try it, I find myself placing obstacles in my path.
- I can't go exercise until I find my shoes is a simple one, but there's also
- Wait a minute, I need to hit the bathroom first or
- I really should pay that bill before they cut off the electricity instead of after or ... the list goes on and on.

Sometimes, my subconscious gets sneaky about the obstacles.

For example, when Starbucks said "hey, take this smoothie coupon and review this product," I thought it was a good idea. There's a big S on the route to the light rail. I saw this as a step forward in the quest to walk more, drive the car less. Didn't see it as an obstacle, but it was.

Since I had firmly tied the Starbucks trip with walking to the light rail, I refused to go check out the smoothies unless I went car-less. And then of course the boss staged several early morning meetings that I had to get to on time, and then I had to pick up a package that was heavy, and then... are you bored yet? I sure am. Yet this went on for over... well, longer than I care to remember. It got to the point where I gave up even trying to Be Good and just drove the damn car every day.

Thankfully, I remembered something Crabby once wrote....

It was a post about the Worst Exercise Mistake.

I quote:

This is something you already know, but perhaps you need reminding:

In order to succeed at any worthwhile long-term health goal (exercise, diet, stress reduction, whatever) you have to Give up on Being Perfect.

So I did. Instead of stopping into Starbucks for some caffeine on my way to work, I (radical concept) dropped into one near my work.

Yeah, yeah, I can see you yawning over there, but this is a Big Deal. I did three things I usually avoid:

1 - Went out and got food for lunch

2 - Took a damn lunch break in the first place

3 - Went for a walk at lunch. Haven't done that in months, and it's the last of the incredible fall weather right now.

Moral: It's really stupid to put work first all the time.

Not your mother's Starbucks

Gotta tell you, even if they did give me a coupon, I was impressed with Starbucks.

I always associated Starbucks with coffee and pastries. Nice, but really both are on my To Be Avoided list. So when I ventured into this House of Caffeine, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they have food that is on my To Eat list. I mean healthy stuff. Incidentally, the Orange Mango Banana smoothie? Quite tasty, though perhaps not something to drink while you're walking back to work on a chilly day.

But wait! There's more...

When did Starbucks change? Now they've got really healthy food.
- For lunch, I picked up fresh fruit and bread-with-fruit-in-it.
- The breakfast menu has oatmeal. Whole grain. It looks good. I've heard it tastes good too. (Starbucks New "Perfect Oatmeal" Loved By Cat.) I'm going to check it out.
- The breakfast muffins are also whole grain, with fruit.
- They also offer a "Power Protein Plate: an on-the-go snack of Cheddar cheese, fresh fruit, hard-boiled cage-free egg, whole-wheat bagel and peanut butter" which sounds good for days when I really want that protein fix.

Fast food that's actually healthy?

I don't want to sound like I've been blindly drinking the Starbucks kool-aid, but I think this is really cool. Yes, these are items that I could make myself, but on days when I am rushing out the door and it's a choice between Starbucks and McD's... that's not a choice. If this were an election issue, I would be one of those standing up on the podium cheering. 'Fast Food' that's actually healthy, without preservatives? additives? trans fats? Woo hoo!

On the down side, this also means one more excuse to eat 'bad' just went out the door. Damn.


  1. I need to tweak my titles huh?

    and Id be so into drinking the starbucks koolaid were I not so cheap, err, frugal :) Ive sauntered past that case with their new menu items (mine is attached to my home away from home barnes & noble) and dang that stuff looks alluring.

    totally not our mother's starbuck now if only I had my mothers bankacct :)


  2. I have *seen* the healthy food at Starbucks, but I haven't re-engineered my brain to want to buy it. Here's the things. That's the sort of stuff I eat at home. I've always associated Starbucks with the fancy coffee drink and naughty scone. So it has been difficult for me to cross over. But here's what happened last time I was in Starbucks: I just didn't get a treat at all. I looked at the healthy stuff and knew I should, looked at the tempting stuff and knew I shouldn't, so just got my coffee and saved myself $5. But do I think it's a welcome change? Amen sister!

  3. I worked at Starbucks while I was in college, so I'm generally sick of the place. I did notice that they were offering some new, healthier items. The protein power plate is a great lunch to grab on my way to work. It has around 300 calories and keeps me satisfied for hours. Plus, at $5, it's cheaper than most other options in DC.

  4. Good for you for the lunch walk!

    I think Starbucks was long overdue for a menu change. I only hope more chains follow suit.

    It's fine to have SOME junky things on the menu, but I really hate it when there's nothing you can get at a restaurant that isn't packed with unhealthy fats, white flour, and sugar.

    I'm just hoping for more miraculous franchise makeovers before we head out on our cross country trip!

  5. To me, this post is a good reminder to be flexible and consider new options. Sometimes our well-intentioned plans just don't work out, for reasons beyond our control, but that doesn't mean we can't find a way. As you (or Crabby) said - it's not about being perfect, it's about doing the best we can.

    Great post Merry!

  6. I really struggle with the perfection thing. This was a nice reminder to just get over it. :)

  7. Starbucks gave my handicapped sister a job, so I'm grateful to them for that.

  8. I don't go to starbucks that much. I can make green tea and coffee drinks (using protein powder) that work for me.

    Although it's great that they're offering healthier menus (and their nutrition section on their web site was always easy to navigate).

  9. Why, why did you have to mention Starbucks before I'd had breakfast!!! Now I want a frappuccino (light), they're my ultimate indulgence. But I really do like their smoothies, too. I've never tried any food from there, will give it a look the next time I'm in there (aka this morning, lol).

  10. Great job with letting perfection go, Merry! That's a lesson I'm not good at. Yet. I too am glad that restaurants are offering some healthier fare these days.

  11. Being a starbucks whore, I've tried some of their healthier stuf...ok, a lot of it.

    I'm glad they're offering oatmeal along with pastries.

    Options are always welcome.

    Even better when they send you coupons to try them out :)

  12. I love the Starbucks smoothies, but more than the food info, I really needed to hear "Give up being perfect." I wish I could have someone email me that every single day. I need to write it in random places so that when I open my lunch or get in my car there it is, reminding me. =)

  13. I'm wary of these kinds of things. Obviously its a lot better than the old stuff, now that this is a bit healthier, but just because its a bit healthier doesn't mean its healthy! Also I'm assuming their portion sizes are quite large plus there's bound to be lots of sugar and such added (for example, I've heard that when you get the oatmeal you're supposed to ask for it without all the sugar and such that they pile on it, because otherwise they just mound it on).

    Or maybe I'm just being cynical! Anyway, good for you for getting away from the office for a little while!

  14. I just love their coffee...I find their baking mediocre. I'm too picky...I just end up making my own.

    I take their coffee black...like my soul.

  15. I heard a rumor recently that Starbucks is going back to its coffee roots. I'm not sure if it's true, but there was talk of doing away with some of the fancier, non-coffee, non-pastry kind of foods. I hope they don't though.

    I do like those frappucinos, though I don't get them often.

    Not having to be perfect is a great motto. I went to a meditation group last night, and at the end, the leader read a poem. I didn't even hear most of it, because my brain homed in on the first part and it really resonated with me:

    You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
    (Wild Geese, Mary Oliver)

    Not to say that we should just do whatever we want all the time (chocolate here we come!), but that you don't always have to focus all the time about being perfecting virtuous, eating right all the time, exercising, finding that meditation zen. But it's important to listen to your body, do what you can, and perfection is ephemeral (rather like weight with someone with an ED, the perfection bar can keep sliding away from you).

  16. I am digging the oatmeal with nuts! Now I can get oatmeal and plain coffee for what I used to pay for a latte.

    And i love the orange-mango-banana smoothie. I've been taking my 87-year-old mother for one after her chemotherapy every week.

    I'm very impressed with Starbuck's willingess to make these changes during a tenuous economic period. They've earned my loyalty.

  17. I've always thought that Starbucks was way overpriced for what it serves. If they have a decent lunch for $5 (Laura's comment) then that sounds worthwhile. I've just avoided them for a long time for so many reasons. Good for you though for the positive changes.

    OK so is it just me, or is that "Just do it" blade designed to be interpreted as a suicide suggestion? (and I don't mean that was Merry's message - just its design)

  18. I was hoping that was an encouragement to shave more... :(

  19. Heh, I thought the same thing about the blade.

  20. Love the giving up on being perfect thing! It really is that simple. Crabby rules!

    We don't have the healthy Starbucks stuff over here yet, but I'm looking forward to it coming to the UK (pleaseplease) because I do tend to stop by there when I'm working in London.

    TA x

  21. I'm not into Starbucks because, yes, it's expensive, and because "good" coffee is wasted on me. I'm happy with almost any coffee as long as it's fairly strong and black. So it would be dumb of me to waste money on Starbucks.

    I've been known to buy coffee there when there wasn't any other coffee at hand. And once I used their bathroom and then bought whatever their term is for "small coffee" because I felt obliged.

  22. i work for starbucks now and my discount makes it affordable (30% off). that being said, some of their more nutritional options are good. the power protein plate is good though i felt the hard-boiled egg was a bit ... yucky.

    i love the oatmeal.

    the orange-mango-banana vivanno is pretty good ... and i usually hate mangoes (i know, i know).

    i haven't tried the fruit and cheese plate yet ... but that's because the cranberry walnut bread looks yucky. perhaps some day ...

    beware the reduced-fat turkey bacon sandwich as it still has 11 grams of fat in it and, go figure, doesn't taste quite as good as the full-fat pepper bacon sandwich.

    if you don't like coffee, just go with the iced teas. just ask for them unsweetened (without the classic syrup they put in) - saves a buttload of calories, tastes just like iced tea then ... and you can sweeten it in your own, non-calorific way by adding a few packets of splenda or whatnot.

  23. Oh, when I worked in an office, I loved the lunch break walk when I had the opportunity to take one.

    Now that I am home, I tend to the gym at around lunch time, but it's not the same.


  24. If only Starbucks had good coffee, I'd be there more often. But, since their coffee sucks, I just can't bring myself to go. Not even for the oatmeal. (Disclaimer, I live in Portland where we are as snobby about our coffee as we are about our beer. And our wine. And our environmentalism. And just about everything, really. At least we're fun!)

  25. When I worked outside the home I took a walk at lunch most days to help me with stress.......it was great!

    I'm glad Starbucks is 30 min away......I am addicted to coffee....the flavor, the smell, the buzz......

    Since I live in a small town, I doubt we'd ever have one. We have a local shop.....very cute and chic.....but the coffee isn't all that great so I rarely go.

  26. Great blog, first time here, I will be back.

  27. Sometimes, my subconscious gets sneaky about the obstacles.

    Oh boy, you have no idea how right you are about sneaky subconscious unless you've quit smoking.

    The first 1,437 times I *tried* to quit smoking my subconscious would get downright evil. It not only coerced me into believing that "just one more" cigarette wouldn't hurt, but at times it would pound my head into a cinder block wall until I relented. Which, admittedly, never took as long as it should.

    When I finally figured out that my subconscious didn't always have my best interests in..uh..mind, I grew a backbone and actually quit the damned things instead of "trying to quit" for the 1,438th time.

  28. I think it is great that healthy snacks are getting easier to find. I only drink Starbucks (yes, even here in Canada) if there is no Second Cup around (only here in Canada).

  29. Perfection is pointless, and heck ya work should not come first. Shhh...don't tell my boss. ;)

    Also, I tried the chocolate-y with a coupon I won, and it ROCKED!

  30. On the perfection thing I finally learned that it was never going to happen, that it wasted a lot of my time and made me feel bad; so I give myself slack now, and life is much better. It doesn't mean that I don't do my BEST, just that I don't beat myself up if I fall short of my own or someone else's expectations.

    Starbucks. I worked there and got infected by good coffee, back when it really was good. Yes, they used to roast too dark, thus the derogatory "Charbucks" on the alt.coffee list. But I ended up with a great deal on an espresso machine and a super grinder with an employee AND Xmas discount. The machine can only steam milk now, 10 years later, but I started roasting my own coffee 7 years ago and it is awesome. Starbucks is fine in a pinch or as a treat, their mango sorbetto is killer, and their new Pikes Place blend is excellent, as are their Yukon and Gold Coast blends. I don't eat the food much, it seems that the last 4-5 years they have made policy changes, and the pastries are always stale. Shame. Good sandwiches though, have had a few as an alternative to taco hell when traveling..

    The razor blade disturbed me as well, no offense!

  31. Is that a razor blade? I thought it was just a little metal emblem sorta thing. :)

    I want to go to Starbucks. Right. Now. Mmmmmm, sugar free french vanilla latte ....

  32. Hey, Cranky Fitness is a blog with an edge! And Cranky Fitness is sharp! And... and... and you can shave your legs with it! How many other blogs can make that claim??? :)

  33. I have the Chocolate Banana Vivano made with SKIM milk and extra ice (to keep it thick) almost every weekday for breakfast. It's WW points-friendly, convenient, delicious and very satisfying. I didn't care much for the orange-mango-banana one, though. I've tried it a few times from a few different locations and each time it had that weird protein powder taste that turns me off (i love protein powder, just not the chalky taste it has when it isn't mixed properly).

  34. Starbucks can be heavy on the calories, but you are right, they are coming out with some nutrition and weight loss focused beverages and snacks. I usually have the chocolate banana vivano with skim milk. I have not tried their smoothies yet but they sound delicious.


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