The most unlikely competitive eater

By August 4, 2011 Food, Musings

Lauren Takao is a 30-year-old fifth grade teacher at Christian Academy who helps coach the school’s cross country team. She’s a Beachbody — think P90X and Insanity — coach and part-time yoga teacher. And she just had a baby seven months ago.

Not exactly the person you’d expect to to finish 12 scoops of ice cream or 2 1/2 boxes of cereal in one sitting.

Yet Takao is one of those unlikely competitive eaters, now a finalist for an upcoming episode of the Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food Nation.”

Her video is one of five selected in a recent casting call, and folks have until Aug. 11 to vote. (To cast your vote — one a day until the deadline — click here.)

Takao is the only female finalist, the only one from Hawaii, and, well, the only one who doesn’t seem like she could finish 12 hot wings in six minutes in the Buffalo Wild Wings Challenge.

So you know I had a few questions to ask!

CAT: I’m assuming you’re a fan of the show.
LT: Huge fan!

CAT: How did you hear about this challenge?
LT: I heard about the challenge through the Internet. I love the show and thought, “Hey, I can do that!”

CAT: What compelled you to submit the video
LT: I submitted the video on a whim. My husband and I are huge Man v Food fans, and would go to the restaurants (host) Adam (Richman) went to whenever we traveled. Also, we tried doing many food challenges, and I figured I might as well submit a video, and God willing, I would get picked. Never actually thought it would happen!

CAT: So, you were you surprised you were named a finalist?
LT: I was totally shocked that I was named a finalist! When I first got the call I didn’t recognize the number and thought it was a telemarketer!

CAT: I gotta admit, the other finalists are pretty impressive. You concerned at all?
LT: I think all four are pretty impressive. When I saw their videos I thought mine was not that great. They had terrific editing, pictures, etc. My video was just shot in my living room with the TV on in the background and car seat on the side! All five of us can eat; it’s just now a matter of who the public would like to see and what city they want the crew to shoot at.

CAT: So what are all the eating challenges you’ve won or participated in?
LT: Tried Mac 24/7 pancakes but the most I ate was a little more than three-fourths. Finished the 12 scoop sundae at Sweet Krevz in Aiea in about 20 to 30 minutes, finished the Buffalo Wild Wings Challenge, finished the Sharkey’s buffalo wing challenge (only woman to do so), came in second in the Waikiki Speed Eating contest, came in third at the Bayfest burger competition last month, finished third in JJ Dolans pizza competition this past year, only person to finish the Cereal Remix Megamix challenge (2 1/2 boxes of cereal, milk, 6 toppings). So far, those are the only ones I remember doing!

CAT: OMG. I’m sure you get this ALL THE TIME: You’re so damn skinny! What’s your secret?
LT: Ha ha, I was always pretty skinny — my mom was small, not even 100 pounds when she got married! — but breastfeeding also helps lose that pregnancy weight. I have always been active, too — done many marathons, triathlons, yoga competitions, etc. After giving birth I also became a Beachbody coach and did the 60-day Insanity workout and that really helped me lose a lot of weight (although I didn’t do it with the intention of losing, just to gain strength).

CAT: Uh, still. That’s just not fair. So what do you enjoy about competitive eating?
LT: I love the fact that I’m so small but can eat and amaze people. I also love food, and it takes a lot of mental strength and determination to do these challenges. It fits my personality because I’m pretty competitive and will push myself to do the best I can.

CAT: So I’m envisioning your daily meals to be gorge-fests. Very Paul Bunyan. No?
LT: Breakfast is fruit and yogurt. Lunch varies but is usually something fast like sandwich, sushi, salad. Dinner is great because it’s with my husband and daughter. I’m not a great cook, and if we go out we go to kid-friendly places nearby like Big City Diner. I like fish a lot, but sometimes really crave a thick steak. And we always have vegetables with dinner. Pretty standard diet. Lots of fruits, veggies, good proteins and whole grains, but I also love having a glass or two of wine with dinner. Just discovered Morimoto’s beer and am liking that, too.

If you want to see Lauren represent Hawaii on an upcoming episode of “Man V. Food Nation,” vote for her video. You have until Aug. 11.

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Men juggling jobs and laundry, too?

By August 3, 2011 Musings, The Daily Dish

Guys have a bad rep when it comes to housework.

They’re typically the ones earning more money and working longer hours.

But that all changed once women entered the workforce in large numbers in the ’70s. Women started earning incomes comparable to men and spending just as much — if not more — time at the office.

So who’s doing the laundry and picking up the kids at soccer practice?

Well, the women are, of course.

It’s been long a common complaint of women who juggle housework, childcare and full-time jobs: why can’t the men pick up some of the slack?

Well, they are. Slowly.

In a 2007 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, 62 percent of married adults said “sharing household chores” was the third most important factor — after faithfulness and sex — in a successful marriage, up from 47 percent in a similar study in 1990.

I can relate.

I work a full-time job, freelance fairly consistently and participate in several outside projects, including community service. I have friends I want to see, dogs that need walking, and calories that need to be burned before dinner.

Add to that the laundry that needs to get done (and folded), meals that need to be made, dishes that need to be washed, bills that need to be paid, floors that need to be Swiffer-ed — and I’m exhausted before the end of the weather segment on the 6 p.m. news.

These things — the household chores — tend to still be the job of the woman. And I can’t understand why. If a man lived on his own, he would have to do the same thing. (Sure, maybe laundry wouldn’t get done every week. But still.) So why does that change in a marriage?

Only 9 percent of 810 people in a recent survey of dual-earner couples say they split everything down the middle, housework included.

And yet men are feeling just as tired and overworked as women.

In a survey of nearly 1,000 fathers, conducted by Boston College’s Center for Work and Family, 57 percent agreed with this statement: “In the past three months, I have not been able to get everything done at home each day because of my job.”

It’s a surprise to many men just how much work keeping a home can be.

I’m very lucky; my boyfriend actually enjoys cooking and cleaning. (I learned quickly, though, that we can’t do either together.) But among my girlfriends, that’s a rarity.

Got a thought on this?

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Great Debate: Fat but rich vs. skinny but poor

By August 2, 2011 Musings, The Daily Dish

It’s a question I often see pop up on message boards and news polls:

Would you rather be fat but rich or skinny but poor?

People quickly see the loophole and choose fat but rich, figuring they can hire a personal trainer or dietician — or plastic surgeon — to make them skinny. Then they’ll be what everyone really wants: skinny AND rich.

Truth is, people want to be either skinny or rich — both, preferably — thinking it either will guarantee them a better life.

Now, there’s some truth in that.

Being overweight would be a huge obstacle if you enjoy being active, traveling, running marathons. Let’s face it: this world doesn’t make accommodations (willingly) for overweight and obese folks. We make it hard for them to find clothing that fits well, we make them buy two tickets on airplanes, and they end up paying more in medical expenses. It’s a tough life.

But being poor isn’t so attractive, either. Money does buy some level of happiness. You can live in safer neighborhoods, drink cleaner water, send your kids to college, travel more, eat better — the list goes on.

But it’s foolish to think that both — being skinny and/or rich — will equate to a better life. It may — but it’s not the only factor.

This is a tough one. I’d have to say, since I’m active, I’d rather be skinny (or fit) and poor. I can always marry the fat, rich guy!

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MTV turning 30 and in a mid-life crisis

By August 1, 2011 Musings, The Daily Dish

Is this right? Britney Spears is the same age as MTV?


It’s hard to believe it was 30 years ago today that MTV began airing something we had never seen before, at least in America: music videos. The first one to air on the pioneering cable channel was, appropriately, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles, an English New Wave group.

The first video aired on MTV 30 years ago

Boy, has MTV come a long way from the days of hour-long video marathons to, well, hardly playing a music video anymore.

Criticize MTV all you want. You can’t deny its powerful influence on pop culture. Lauren Conrad (“Laguna Beach,” “The Hill”) and the entire “Jersey Shore” cast didn’t exist until MTV.

And remember these classic shows: “Club MTV,” “Direct Effect,” “Headbangers Ball,” “MTV Unplugged,” “Yo! MTV Raps,” “My So-Called Life” and “Remote Control.” These were after-school TV staples for me — and most of my generation.

But like everything else in media, MTV has, well, sold out. It banks more on the undeniable popularity (and cheap production costs) of reality TV — 

While some — “Pimp My Ride,” “Run’s House” and “MTV Cribs” — are enjoyable, others — “Jersey Shore,” “16 and Pregnant” and “My Super Sweet 16″ — are barely tolerable. Honestly, I’d rather watch commercials.

Still, MTV has been our friend — or frenemy — for years, and it’s been quite a ride.

Here are three fun reads today about the best memories of MTV these past 30 years:

“The 30 all-TIME best music videos” by TIME
“Happy birthday MTV: 30 best moments” from The Guardian
• “MTV’s best videos ever” from NBC’s “Today”

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Today’s happy shot

By July 31, 2011 Food, Happy Shots

A burger made with a Krispy Kreme donut? Oh, yeah!


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