A small case of the plague has seriously hampered any serious training, both with weights and running. Even after the snot faucet dried up, my sinuses felt like my face was going to explode, like that scene from Alien where, well, you know. The fact that it was bloody cold only aggravated my tender lungs. Even walking the dogs left me gasping for air. Add to that, I’ve been dealing with a nagging issue with my foot from when my boxer tried to trip me. I’ve come to the conclusion that she did it on purpose so that I would be forced to stay on the couch for snuggles.
And as we know, when you can’t breathe, you can’t taste anything. I was basically subsisting on soups and teas and none of it tasted very good. Given the New Year, every time I turned on my computer, I was inundated with stuff about clean-eating and food resolutions and blah blah blah. And that got me to thinking.
I hate when people say “I’m on a diet”. My one grandma was always on a diet. She would sit at the dinner table and pick at some tiny amount of food all the while announcing that she was on a diet. She would stop and then be right back on. It just didn’t make sense to me then and it still doesn’t.
Being “on a diet” just seems so short-sighted. So you lose a few pounds by restricting your food. Then what? You go right back to eating like you were before and then you’re back on your diet. I prefer to think of having a healthy and sustainable diet.
Then there’s all these, I don’t quite know what to call them: Paleo, Atkins, Wheat Belly. Paleo in particular bothers me. You want to know what they really ate way back when? They went into the forest and killed wild animals so no beef, no chicken, nothing that has been domesticated if you want to be authentic. Hey guess what? Most of our fruits and vegetables are (get ready for this) genetically modified *gasp*. So if you want a real Paleo diet, grab a basket and start foraging.
I get why people use them as a guide but I’m going to save you a crapload of money on these types of things: cut the heavily processed foods and eat more fruits and vegetables. The fewer steps there are between the farm and the grocery store, the better. Cut back, or even cut out, the meat. Eat lots of whole grains. Done. Too bad there’s no way to make a ton of money on trying to sell that.
I know so many people that follow these programs and they spend so much time obsessing over what they can or can’t eat. Sometimes they have to track down hard to find and expensive ingredients or they buy prepared meals that have a price tag that make my eyes pop out of my head. Maybe it’s just because everywhere I turn, I see blatant marketing schemes.
Now before I go sounding like a total snob, if that’s what it takes for someone to get their food intake in order, then fine. That’s great. If you need everything laid out for you, then do what works for you because I would rather someone follow that then do nothing. If you’re agonizing over what you can eat and it’s causing you to totally stress out or affecting any joy that you get from socializing, then I think it’s not the best thing.
And we also know that it’s not quite as simple as “calories in vs calories out” but that’s a pretty simple guideline to keep in mind. Obviously burning as much or more than you’re consuming is unsustainable and unhealthy but even if you go with the easy 2000 calorie daily intake, that’s still 1000 calories to burn. Plus a few more for good measure.
With all of the sites on the internet to help with meal prep and recipes for just about everything under the sun, there’s help for people who are short of time (which I would say is almost everyone) and the folks that say “I can’t cook”. You don’t have to be making a eight course meal every night, but look for some new ideas. One of my all-time favourite dinners is a whack of arugula topped with sliced steak, zest and juice of a lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, some grated parmesan, and salt and pepper. I use almost an entire pack of arugula and eat out of a mixing bowl.
I’ll admit that I had to change my way of thinking where food was concerned. But once I started thinking of food as fuel I began to pay attention to the macronutrients and maintaining a healthier diet, it started to make a bit more sense. I looked at meals in their components: what was my protein, my carb, and my fat. I used to have a list of things that I had to eat every day, things like dark leafy vegetables or whole grains. It got ingrained into my mind especially when the training load increases and I find that I go back to really paying attention to what I eat. Even though I’m far from an elite athlete my diet does affect my performance, and what’s the point of spending all those hours training if you’re not going to help your body to recover.
Yes I used the word diet. Not that I was “on a diet” but that I am able to maintain a healthy and sustainable diet. Is it always perfect? HELL NO. But not being on a super restrictive “diet” means that I am able to stay on track a lot more consistently than if I didn’t allow some fun foods.
One last quick thing: fuelling after a workout. If you think that just because you walk/ran for 30 minutes since you’re just beginning your workout plan, do not for any reason think that you do not need to refuel. A new exercise regime is hard for your body and you have to help it to heal which means some protein and some carbs. The general rule of thumb is a 4:1 ratio of carb to protein. What does that mean? I’m not quite sure. I usually have a serving of Greek yogurt (protein), a spoonful of peanut butter (fat), and a sliced banana (carb).
And for the love of all that is good, do NOT sell your effort short. You may have struggled through “just 30 minutes” but you are putting stress on your body and it needs to repair the damage. I found that proper refuelling helped to prevent a lot of soreness and allowed me to put in more consistent workouts.
Now hopefully I’ll have a fun post soon unless there’s any other topics that anyone want me to rant about. Damn plague.