The Beauty of Austin, TX

I’m sitting here in the airport in Austin, TX after a 3-day visit with my friend and ND colleague. Wow! What a city Austin is!

Austin is the capital of Texas and the 16-largest city in the US as well as the 3rd fastest growing large city in the nation from 2000 to 2006. Austin has a population of 709,893. The city is the cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan area with a population of more than 1.5 million.

Austin was selected as the No. 2 Best Big City in "Best Places to Live" by Money magazine in 2006, and the "Greenest City in America" by MSN ("Greenest" referring to a commitment to sustainable living). Residents of Austin are known as "Austinites," and include a mix of university professors, students, politicians, lobbyists, musicians, state employees, high-tech workers, blue-collar workers, and white-collar workers.

The main campus of the University of Texas is located in Austin. The city is home to enough large sites of major technology corporations to have earned it the nickname "Silicon Hills." Austin’s official slogan promotes the city as "The Live Music Capital of the World", a reference to its status as home to many musicians and music venues.

In recent years, many Austinites have also adopted the unofficial slogan "Keep Austin Weird"; this refers partly to the eclectic and progressive lifestyle of many Austin residents, but is also the slogan for a campaign to preserve smaller local businesses and resist excessive commercialization.

I tried to fit in as much as I could in the short time I was there. Saturday night, I met Amy and her friends for Mexican food at Chuy’s, a popluar Mexican restaurant which was a huge fiesta of fun. We went back to Amy’s place and talked until 10 pm. I started getting ready for bed, and Amy asked what I was doing. I said, “I always go to bed at 10pm” and she said, “Going to bed at 10pm while you’re in Austin is a crime. Get ready, the night has just begun.”

Amy and her cool chick posse took me to experience the Austin bar scene. Up until now I have led a very sheltered, boring, bookworm, workaholic existence and do not have much experience in bars. The music was pumping and the bars were packed with energetic young people. It was difficult to carry on a conversation with the other Austinites because of the loud music. I found myself having to explain over and over why my libation of choice was dihydrogen oxide (H2O). I just think there are too many toxins in our environment that my liver has to contend with—why add insult to injury? I know, I know, I’m weird.

The next day my friend Michelle took me to a macrobiotic buffet at Casa De Luz with absolutlely delicious, whole foods fare. At the end of the meal we bussed our own table and put the food scraps into a compost bin. It was the first time I’d ever been to a buffet where I didn’t feel stuffed. It’s hard to feel stuffed on vegetables and brown rice. Outside, people were practicing Tai Chi.

Then we went to the 80,000 sq. ft. headquarters of Whole Foods. This was the highlight of my trip to Austin. What could be so amazing about a natural foods store you ask? I tried to make a video of this store so I could share it with you but security came over and told me to stop filming unless I had permission from corporate. So I asked for corportae’s phone number and called them on the spot but no one returned my call. Bummer.

I will try to recount everything I saw:

  • Sushi stand (when I say “stand” I mean mini-restaurant where they have menus and make it fresh and there are tables for you to sit)
  • Japanese rice bowl stand  
  • Wine tasting stand
  • Raw Food Stand
  • Miscellaneous food stand
  • Gourmet Subs
  • Gelato Stand
  • Fresh Juice Bar
  • Seafood stand
  • Wine bar
  • Six different buffet tables (salad bar, international food etc.)
  • Italian stand
  • Bulk tea and fresh ground coffee area
  • Gourmet olive bar
  • Chocolate stand with chocolate fountain
  • Extensive Gourmet and imported cheese section
  • Coffee bar with decadent pastries
  • Huge bakery
  • Natural Cosmetics counter with free makeovers from professional makeup artists
  • Massage area
  • Large eating area

In addition to having everything else a normal Whole Foods market has except with many more products

I ate at Whole Foods for dinner that night (I sampled 10 different kinds of international dishes from their buffet) and I couldn’t wait to go back the next morning for breakfast and get food to go for lunch. I found the staff to be very warm and friendly (except when you try to videotape their store.)

The only drawback to Whole Foods is that people nickname it “Whole Paycheck” for a reason. I picked up a few things to tide me over for two days and the bill came to $60!

After I looked at my grocery receipt, I decided against asking corporate would let me set up a small apartment somewhere in their headquarters so I could eat the rest of my meals at Whole Foods and never have to cook again (this has been a fantasy of mine for a long time); I think I’d go broke if I did.

After Whole Foods, I toured the state capitol building. All the chandeliers say “TEXAS” and there are pictures of the Alamo in the senate. Texans are very patriotic and proud of Texas. I was born and raised in Michigan. I can’t say Michiganders (Michigan residents) swell with comparable pride over any battles that took place in Michigan history.

Perhaps we’re too worried about the sinking economy, high unemployment and the fact that we’re one of the fattest states in the nation--—actually I don’t think the latter fact bothers too many people except for me. Although I did see my father get very emotional about how badly the Detroit Lions always did in the NFL.

But I’m a North Carolina southerner now—so I suppose will have to start eating grits, fried chicken and okra, attending Baptist revivals and addressing everyone as “Y’all”.…then again, I don’t see the harm in clinging to my Yankee roots for a while longer.

Other Austin highlights included going for a walk around Town Lake. My friend Michelle said that everyone she has met in Austin loves to hike, bike, be active in the outdoors. I also browsed the strange and kitchy shops on Congress Avenue, went out to dinner at a tapas restaurant and saw two live bands on Congress Ave. (at The Gallery) and did the two-step with some charming Austin cowboys. We stayed out until 1am on a Monday night! — oh my someone say a prayer for my wayward, hedonistic soul.

What does this have to do with weight loss you ask?

Well, I didn’t see many overweight people in Austin. Austinites are taking advantage of the plethora of healthy restaurants including Whole Foods and organic local farms and farmers markets. They are exercising around Town Lake and other great hiking and biking areas, and they are burning calories living it up at one of hundreds of places to shake your booty any night of the week.  

If you get the chance, go visit Austin and take advantage of their green lifestyle and unique culture. I love the slogan “Keep Austin Weird” because except for the traffic and the summer heat, Austin could not be a more perfect town for us wierdos who are into health, healing, eco-consciousness, local economy, free-thinking, and down home fun.

For more information on Austin click here:,_Texas

About the Author:
Dr. Kendra Pearsall, N.M.D. is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor specializing in natural weight loss and food addiction. She created to help millions of people achieve optimal health, natural weight loss and life success with her free weekly e-newsletter (sign up at the top of this page.)