Half Empty or Half Full?

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

Happy Friday, blog friends! :mrgreen: I am so glad that the work week is just about over. Mal and I have a really fun weekend planned! 😎

This morning’s breakfast was a new creation: Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie!

Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie

Makes 1


  • 1/2 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 cup vanilla soy milk
  • 1 tbsp hemp (or whey) protein
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • Dash of nutmeg
Directions: Combine all ingredients in blender (or VitaMix) until smooth.

This smoothie tastes just like sweet potato pie (delicious!) and is packed with nutrients. It’s a sweet smoothie, but not so sweet (or thick) that you feel like you are sipping on a liquefied piece of sweet potato pie. It’s just right in my opinion!

This smoothie is also a very filling. I had planned to eat an Oatmeal Raisin Bar with breakfast, but I ended up packing it up for later. My stomach is totally content for now.

Defensive Pessimism

If you’re an avid reader of Carrots ‘N’ Cake, you’d probably assume that I am a rather positive person. So, I’m sure you’d be surprised to know that I am actually a major pessimist. In fact, Mal often bugs encourages me to be more positive.

The other day, I read an article in O Magazine (March 2009) called “Revenge of the Pessimists.” (FYI: It’s on Oprah’s site with a different title.) The article explained a form of pessimism called “defensive pessimism,” which I found very interesting and describes me well. Here are some of the article’s main points:

  • “Defensive pessimists prepare for a situation by setting low expectations for themselves, then follow up with a very detailed assessment of everything that may go wrong.”
  • “Defensive pessimism is a strategy used in specific situations to manage anxiety, fear, and worry.”
  • “What’s intriguing about defensive pessimists is that they tend to be very successful people, and so their low opinion of the outcome isn’t realistic; they use it to motivate themselves to perform better.”
  • “Research shows that if you pressure defensive pessimists into being optimistic, or try to manipulate their mood, their performance deteriorates.” 

In a sense, this article verbalized and validated my pessimistic outlook. Even from the time I was a little girl, I always expected the worst, and thus, prepared myself for the worst case senario. Today, I still think about the full range of possible bad outcomes, so I can figure out how to handle them, which, as you can probably guess, gives me a sense of control. Basically, defensive pessimism is a tool that prepares me for just about anything, including failure. So, if I do fail, I’m ready for it. Mentally considering all of the possibilities makes a bad outcome less catastrophic for me.

Does this sound familiar to you? Feel free to take a quiz to see if you are a defensive pessimist, too: Defensive Pessimism Questionaire

Question of the Day

Are you an optimist or pessimist? Or perhaps a defensive pessimist?



  1. The smoothie looks delicious! I will try that soon.

    I always thought I was an optimist. But I took that quiz and my results were “You may use both strategies or neither strategy consistently.” So who knows really!

  2. How funny to read this today. I was just telling the story about my favorite quote when I was 13: “If you never expect anything from anyone you are never disappointed.” Word of advice: never let your teenager read Sylvia Plath. Anyway, I’ve recently had some major stuff happen in my life and I was feeling miserable and stuck until I realized how much my negative attitude was holding me back. Too many times I haven’t spoken up, tried something new, or given something a fighting chance because I assume it won’t work out. Someone once called me the Queen of Self Fulfilling Prophecies. I’ve been realizing more and more that I’m more miserable when I don’t try than when I do and fail. Good thing 32 years old isn’t too late to turn over a new leaf!

  3. woow!!! That that is a smoothie I would have never thought of!!!!! That sounds absolutely delish and perfect to get that thanksgiving sweet potato pie fix all year round. Have you gone to any of the farmers markets at the Pru or in Copley? Do you know what days they are?

  4. That would make a great dessert! Can we call it an Orange Monster?
    And I would never have guessed you were a pessimist, or a defensive pessimist. Did something tragic happen to you when you were younger?
    I love your blog, and even though I am an optimist, I enjoy pessimists so let a little of that show!

  5. nice smoothie! I think I might be a defensive pessimist, too. I try to be optimistic to keep myself from worrying, but I am the BIGGEST worry wart around. I’m always thinking of the bad things that could happen that are totally out of nowhere.

  6. Wow, a filling smoothie?! I didn’t know those existed 😉 I always need a little something alongside the ones I make.

    I’m an optimist… I seem to have faith in everyone and everything. It can be disappointing every now and again but most of the time the positive thinking serves me well 🙂

  7. i always like to think of myself as a “logical thinker”… i try to see things for what they are and realistically consider how to deal with the outcomes. i tend to prepare for the worst, but without dwelling on it. i guess i most often expect things to go wrong, but i try to come up with a plan and move on without over-thinking everything. i definitely think it’s about controlling the situation too…

  8. YUMMY looking smoothie…

    I used to be a major defensive pessimist because I wanted to prepare for the worst outcome to avoid being let down. However, I feel like I’m leaning more towards optimistic now, in the sense that I don’t look at things the same. I still tell myself, “that might not work out.” But instead of preparing for the worst, I tell myself that I’m okay with whatever happens. And in that sense, I guess I would be considered optimistically pessimistic. Or something..haha… 😀

    Have a great Friday, Tina!

  9. I consider myself what I call a “realist” – expect for little, be pleasently surprised. I don’t look at the glass half full or half empty, rather I see it as there. I find overly optimistic people highly annoying. I find myself laughing at the shtity situation life throws at us, which doesn’t sit well with all. C’est la vie.

  10. I’m so glad there’s a name for it — I am definitely a defensive pessimist. I always say if I expect the worst then I’m prepared for it, but if it turns out well then it’s a pleasant surprise.

  11. that’s really interesting. i had never heard of “defensive pessimists” but those points definitely describe me!

  12. I am definitely an optimist! I can always find the good in any situation and I always hope for the best and even if I’m let down, I don’t let it bug me for long. I have my moments but I’d say overall, I’m an optimist 🙂 See, just look at my dang smiley face! Haha…

  13. i am such an defensive pessimist! nice to find something that explains what i do… i try to tell my boyfriend that i plan and strategize to keep things from going awry and to not “waste” time. I hate wasting time when we’re traveling or out doing stuff!

  14. I prefer to call myself a realist. 😉 I try to look at all possibilities for a situation and then start creating appropriate reactions. Yup, it has everything to do with being in control. If things start flying out of control I freak out a bit (on the inside not outwardly thank goodness!).

    Love those almonds! I really like the plain roasted ones, still very flavorful. I like crunchy things in my salads that add texture. I love seeds and think they provide such a nice healthy boost to our diets so my salads almost always contain sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Sometimes if I’m having a sweet salad, I even add granola for some crunch and flavor.

  15. I was experimental today too. I tried a Green Monster Smoothie this morning with Kale. Was wonderful. A beautiful shade of green and quit delicious!

  16. I say realist, but some certainly say pessimist about me! I don’t know why, but it doesn’t really bother me. It’s just the way I am and I can’t imagine being an optimist about everything. I think balance is key.

  17. I tend to be an optimist. But what I learned in a psych course is that its not bad to be a pessimist as long as you know how to use the outlook productively.

  18. I would have never guessed you to be a pessimist. But we all have our things, so I understand! I can be pretty pessimistic at times too. I think the reason I tend to be more positive on my blog is because it’s one thing I LOVE doing. Do you feel that way too?

  19. I am the same type of pessimist as you. Unfortunately, it really holds me back on some things – I’m so afraid of/certain I will fail that I don’t try as hard at certain things! I’m working on it, though….annoyingly, I ALSO have a super optimistic husband! 🙂

  20. I would never guess you to be a pessimist either!! Thanks so much for posting this Tina! This is my boyfriend to a T and it helps me to understand him better! He’s successful in everything, but is just about the most negative person I know;) Im extremely positive so thats probably why we balance so well. Thanks again and Happy “Cookie” Friday! ; )

  21. Thanks for posting this!! My boyfriend calls me a “sandbagger”, so I’m glad to have a better term for my outlook!! The whole concept of defensive pessimism makes so much sense to me and seems to fit. I’ve always had rather low expectations (and usually exceed them) but I’ve hesitated calling myself a pessimist because of the negative connotation. I think of pessimists as people who see the worst in all situations and don’t try to make the best out of a bad situation – and that doesn’t describe me at all. I expect life to be a mix of good and bad, so I end up feeling over all pretty happy and successful when things turn out a bit better than I’d anticipated.

  22. It’s very hard for me to tell whether I’m an optimist or a pessimist–is it possible to be both?! Like you, I consider the full range of possibilities of any given situation, but I don’t necessarily consider that pessimistic; I think that is a balanced and realistic approach to living.

    Your smoothie looks great, btw!

  23. That smoothie looks wonderful, I may have to give that a whirl. Or a blend, as it may be.

    I took the test and I’m not a defensive pessimist! I will say that I have worked hard to improve my intentions, expectations and outlook over the last year, though.

  24. I am definitely a defensive pessimist. I definitely envision the bad outcomes but I think I use that to my advantage to work as hard as possible to end up with a good outcome. It definitely motivates me to try harder – whoo hoo for being a pessimist, a defensive one at least:)

  25. Smoothie looks good! I love pumpkin smoothies. Yum.

    I am quite the optimist! Enough so to really irritate my hubby. He gave me the nickname Ms. Radiance, which I love. I didn’t always use to be this way, but realized it takes way less energy to be positive and optimistic than to be pessimistic.

  26. I found your topic on defensive pessimism really interesting. Recently, I had to do some research on “chronic optimism” and “Positive Psychology.”
    Taking these assessments, apparently I am a pessimist/defensive pessimist. What’s funny is, I always thought I was more of an optimist! What kind of a pessimist thinks she is an optimist? How is that possible? haha, but I realized I am a pessimist when it comes to my own abilities/responsibilities, and an optimist about others/the world in general. I am working on believing in myself more!
    Thanks for the thought provoking information!

  27. Your sweet potato pie smoothie looks and sounds delicious. I have yet to make a smoothie – for some reason they intimidate me – but the idea of a one stop nutritionally powerful breakfast that includes sweet potato is awesome! 🙂

    I’m definitely a defensive pessimist, but only when it comes to myself. During my first half marathon, I was very lax with my time and training goals, and looking back, I think it was saving myself from being scared into not doing it at all due to feelings of extreme pressure to succeed. I’m definitely a type A personality and the fear of failure can be overwhelming if I don’t adjust my goals/preparations.

    Such an interesting post, thanks! 🙂

  28. I am DEFINITELY an optimist!! One of my faults is that I can NOT stand pessimism! If someone is being particularly pessimistic I flat out tell them to cut it out because it’s annoying me. Harsh but it gets the point across.

  29. Tina- I’m not sure if you know this or not (new to me!) but you are the blogger spotlight on Food Buzz right now!

  30. I completely identify with those traits too. I have always thought of myself as being highly realistic and prepared for all outcomes. To me that just sounds better than calling myself a pessimist 😉 But, I’m rarely disappointed and frequently pleasantly surprised, so I guess it works for me!

  31. The smoothie looks fabulous!

    I’m a cross btw and optomist and a pessimist. I’m a very skeptical person about myself and everyone else. But I also tend to believe things work out well.

  32. That is an interesting article. My husband and I call me an “pesimistic optimist” – whenever something bad happens I focus on all the worse things that could have happened so it doesn’t seem so bad!

  33. Thanks for putting that article up there! I strive to maintain a positive outlook on life, but am also a defensive pessimist — always have been, and probably always will be. I don’t necessarily *think* that the worst will happen, but I think about things that could go wrong and make the necessary preparations. As you said, it gives me a sense of control. More than that, though, it *does* help my preparedness level. Maybe that’s why defensive pessimists have high success rates — because they have put their time and energy into exploring as many outcomes as possible.

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