Why “Ink and Sugar”? Many people think the “Ink” refers to my tattoos, which is funny and fitting, but not exactly true. I chose the name “Ink and Sugar” because it reflects my oddly diverse professions: write/editor and pastry chef.
I’m an NCSF-certified personal trainer, and I’ve been learning and writing about fitness and nutrition for over a decade. As an editor, I’ve worked on books featuring nearly every diet that has been popular in the last 25 years–Atkins, Paleo, Zone, et al. Although I don’t work in the restaurant business anymore, I continue to develop recipes for several publications and websites, with a focus mainly on whole food, fitness nutrition, and special diets (e.g., gluten-free and low carb/low sugar), but plenty of tempting indulgences too.
Fitness-wise, I’m a bit of a late bloomer. As a kid, I was a chubby bookworm. Sure, I rode my bike like every other kid back in the days before video games, when the only children’s programming on TV was PBS. But I wasn’t what you’d call sporty. The sweatiest I ever got in gym class was while waiting to see how long it would take me to get picked for dodgeball. Aside from exercise videos (VHS, thankyouverymuch), at-home yoga, and my trusty exercise bike, I was pretty inactive for most of my adult life, too.
At age 40, though, that started to change. I took up running, “coached” by my kids, who were running cross-country in high school. I got a gym membership at Planet Fitness and went religiously. I ran my first half marathon, then marathon, then ultramarathon. I was hooked on distance running, and for the first time in my life, I started to feel “athletic.”
Five years later though, I was frustrated by recurring injuries and the ten pounds or so of chub I couldn’t lose, in spite of the fact that I was running upward of 60 miles a week. I turned to strength training in search of an exercise regimen that would improve my running performance as well as my body composition. Three months after I started lifting weights in earnest, my boyfriend encouraged me to accept a challenge I had been toying with: to see if I could get stage ready and compete in a physique show. (I’m still not sure what I was thinking. All I can say is that now, in retrospect, I grossly underestimated that challenge!)
I started training with a coach. And, after 4 months of intense work in the gym and a grueling, soul-crushing diet, I stepped onstage for the first time as a figure competitor. Miraculously, I won first place in two categories and second place in a third. The challenges of bodybuilding simultaneously blow me away and inspire me to work harder, to push myself further. I have a love-hate relationship with the squat rack! I’ve learned more about my body and about sports nutrition in two years of competing than I had in all the years prior! I love the processes of building muscle and enhancing athleticism, and nutrition is endlessly fascinating to me.
Frequently I get asked how I manage to merge fitness with my career in food. The answer is simple: balance. In my off-season, I eat conscientiously 90% of the time, and I allow myself the freedom to enjoy foods I love (with absolutely zero guilt) now and then. I practice restraint but I don’t restrict. There’s a difference! I work hard in the gym, and I treat my body well by eating nutritious, nourishing foods. And once in a while, I take a cheat meal and eat exactly what I feel like eating, with no thought to calories or macros. That’s what works for me.
If I’m not at my desk or in the kitchen, I’m probably at the gym. I’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments, and I’ll do my best to answer right away.
Other Blogs by Sandy Smith
Growlers and Lace ~ craft beer, brewing, and recipes with and for beer.
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