13 January 2011

Tell Me What You Eat And I'll Tell You What You Are

Diet. When certain people hear that word it can inspire utter terror and trepidation in their heart. People eat rightly, people eat wrongly. Some people swear by organic vegan unprocessed raw foods while others eat fast food every meal of every day. No, it’s true, Morgan Spurlock didn’t just make that up to boost DVD sales. Working on a military base I witness it every single day. It sickens me to some extent, but I try not to judge. People like what they like, who am I to tell them what they should or should not be eating.

I’m 29 years old, six feet tall, and 152 pounds of bone, skin, and (some) muscle. One thing I absolutely hate hearing is “You’re so lucky…” Fuck no I’m not! I work my ass off to stay fit. It takes supreme dedication to not only watch every single goddamned morsel I eat, but to also trek off to the gym four days a week, usually after working ten hours. It’s freakin’ hard! During the summer I exercised five times a week: Two days running outdoors, two days doing free weights at the gym, and one day doing machines at the gym. Now, since my wife and I don’t run in the cold, I’ve condensed my running down to one day a week on the treadmill. I don’t care who you are or what you do, it takes a lot of dedication. I do it for myself, as opposed to anyone else. I do it for health and to feel comfortable in my own skin, and to feel confident in public (that’s definitely a big part of it, I won’t lie). Plus, those cheesy 3am infomercials you see preaching about the next best thing in effortless weight loss really do hold some truth to them: Being fit does help improve your sex life! Just ask the missus.

Ack, sorry I kind of got carried away on a little tangent there. I honestly started this little rant with dieting in mind and then went off on exercising. I used to have very abnormal dieting habits. I literally would eat once, maybe twice a day. My stomach was literally a bottomless pit. We would go to lunch at Golden Corral and I would put down seven plates of food without skipping a beat. I remember this one time we went to Chipotle and I ate my entire burrito, and trust me I have them stuff it to the point where they usually have to double wrap it, then immediately went to McDonald’s and downed an entire M&M McFlurry. I kept reading that it was better for your body to eat more smaller meals spread throughout the day, but I just couldn’t break my habits. I needed a catalyst of no small caliber.

Fast forward to our honeymoon cruise in the Western Caribbean where a literally endless buffet was just a short elevator trip away. I couldn’t possibly partake in all of the free food while maintaining a healthy body weight. If I had seven plates of food at every buffet on our cruise I would’ve come home in a body bag. So over the eight day period I trained myself to eat one or two small plates five or six times a day. My bad eating habits were finally broken and I haven’t looked back since. Here’s a look at a typical weekday Mr. Micro Meal Spread:

5:00am – Breakfast: Usually a Clif Bar or a small bowl of cereal (lately it’s been Fiber One with Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk)

8:30am – Snack #1: Gala apple.

11:00am – Lunch: Either a huge bowl of cereal (usually a mix of a variety of brands fortified with granola, nuts, and/or dried fruits) or greek yogurt with local honey and granola.

1:30pm – A mug of hot tea.

3:00pm – Snack #2: Usually a Clif Bar if I’m going to the gym, if not then pretzels or baby carrots with ranch dressing.

5:00pm – Dinner: A peanut butter and banana sandwich if I’m going to the gym. Otherwise it’s usually leftovers from weekend cooking adventures.

8:30pm – Post-Gym Snack: If I went to the gym then I usually grab a small bite of something to refuel my body. It’s usually a handful of granola and a piece of chocolate or a spoonful of peanut butter and honey.

I know I didn’t list many meats or vegetables, but those are usually incorporated when we cook or eat out on the weekends. So, as you can see on average I eat about 5-6 times a day, which many nutritionists say is optimal. The thing is, I really don’t feel any different than before. In fact, I feel worn out at the gym more frequently now than I did when I was eating one or two huge meals a day, eating relatively the same stuff.

What I struggle with most is balancing what I refer to as ‘my little food triangle’, not to be confused with the food pyramid. I call it my little food triangle because I’m always trying to balance the three dominant forces in my life: my seldomly satiated appetite, sufficient energy for an adequate workout, and a tight and trim body. It’s very hard for me to find a healthy balance of all three. I would say on average I achieve a comfortable balance of the three one week out of every four. Luckily for me, this happens to be one of those weeks.

My biggest recent discovery in this department is that I stopped eating big meals right before I went to the gym. I used to think a big meal would give me loads of energy for the gym, but I read online that when I did that my body would have to devote more calories to digesting the food I just consumed, instead of the workout. With my schedule now I eat at 5:00pm right before I leave work, and by the time I hit the gym around 7:00pm my food is digested and I have all of those happy calories ready to do my bidding.

I guess what I’m eventually getting at is has anyone else experienced trouble with this type of balance of eating, exercising, and energy? What works for you? What doesn’t work for you? What does your day-to-day eating schedule look like?

I apologize for the seeming randomness of this post, the more I typed the more points I thought of making. And I completely understand if no one has any input on the matter, it is somewhat private, but not for me! I can type whatever the hell I bloody want on this thing because no one reads it! Yay. Welp, nature calls… That Fiber One induces wondrous BMs. Until next time, go eat something! (in a small manageable portion, that is)

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