Weekends in Philly: How to Be Healthy in Cheesesteak Land

Maybe it’s because I’m at Villanova, where all of the students seem abnormally fit and the gym is always busy, but I’ve been on a workout kick all summer (my sudden healthy splurge might also have something to do with my introduction to cafeteria-style dining; WashU students, remember how lucky you are when you can eat grilled chicken and steamed vegetables whenever you want).

Being healthy isn’t easy, especially on vacation. You’re already spending money! To go to this place! Where you will have to spend more money on food! I’m here to tell you that not only can you be healthy on your visit to Philly (and no, I’m not counting cheesesteaks in this calculation), but that eating well and exercising is cheap, easy, fun, and definitely worth your while.

How to Be Healthy in Cheesesteak Land

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Where to eat: Fuel Center City

Eating well has never tasted so good, or been so stress-free. Fuel is a small café with outdoor seating, local art on the walls, and really, really good food. The menu lists all calorie counts (everything is under 500), so you don’t have to be worried about getting tricked by a health food claim. They have a full drink menu of smoothies, coffees, and homemade juices, on top of their regular menu of rice bowls, salads, wraps, sandwiches, and appetizers. I prefer the rice bowls because they are surprisingly filling and come in a few different flavors and styles: sweet potato risotto, thai chicken/tofu, ginger chicken/tofu, or black bean and avocado. But their best menu item is, in my opinion, the banana whip “ice cream.” They blend frozen bananas and your choice of strawberry or Nutella, and top it with whipped cream. Oh so good. You can order online, take out, or sit down and eat. They even have an app!  www.fuelrechargeyourself.com, 215.922.FUEL

What to do: Rowing Class with Laura at RowZone 

As a college student, I thought rowing was only for the tall, gangly boys on my freshman floor who woke up every morning at 4 a.m. (a.k.a. not me). Now, I’m a regular at RowZone classes with Laura Frigeri, the most motivating and fun teacher I could ever ask for. While listening to great playlists (we’re talking Miley, T-Pain, all the pumped-up beats I need when I’m sweating/dying), Laura takes the class through a 45-minute rowing and strength training routine where students can easily push themselves, but can also modify if 1,000 meters in six minutes just ain’t gonna happen. The studio’s website estimates that rowers burn 600-800 calories per session, so a few missed meters feels A-OK to me. The studio provides towels, mats, and free fruit after each work out. New students can get a 5-class pass for $35 (that’s better than groupon!). www.rowzone.com, 215.496.1399

What to buy: Granola from Green Aisle Grocery at Rittenhouse Farmers Market

Walking is a great way to continue a healthy day, so why not take a stroll around a buzzing, bright farmers market? Free samples had me sold on Green Aisle’s granola, which included my favorite, pumpkin seeds. That, and the fact that no one chastised me for taking two freebies! Green Aisle is a gourmet grocery that also sells jams, breads, and candles at the market. I’m definitely going back to buy some of their preserves and nut butters; they looked delicious.  www.greenaislegrocery.com, 215.465.1411

What to gift: Beeswax Candle from Tassot Apiaries at Rittenhouse Farmers Market

If you don’t already eat it on the regular, you should get yourself into local honey. I was fortunate enough to live with a beekeeper last summer (how college!) who taught me that consuming local honey was not only good for my sweet tooth, but my allergies and health, too. If you’re not from Philly, local honey won’t do you much good, but you can still support the cause by buying a beautiful-smelling beeswax candle. They’re not bad to look at either; they come in floral patterns or, of course, honeycombs and beehives. www.tassotapiaries.com, 908.264.4504

(More info on the farmers market here).

Image Credit: Celeste Lindell, Flickr, some rights reserved

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