Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Food habits and nutrient timing

People generally assume because I work out a lot I can eat whatever I want without consequences. This is absolutely not the case, particularly as I age. Despite being fairly careful, even small bad choices do catch up to me.

I was starting to get that feeling of my clothes not fitting the way they should. Although I'm not a big scale watcher (I had not been on a scale since the bench press meet last February) I stepped on there last week and indeed I'm a couple of pounds up from where I feel my best. Time to rein things in a bit and the upcoming Richmond Marathon (Nov 12) is good motivation to get back on track and maybe learn a few new things.

I've often seen it stated that weight management/loss is 70% nutrition and 30% exercise. Based on my own experience, I would agree. I work out plenty...that's not an issue. I eat consciously and well....most of the time. But it's all those little allowances I was granting myself with the excuse that I "train hard" that are catching up to me.

I'm back to planning meals on a spreadsheet (I love Excel). When I'm committed to it like now, I enjoy the process, enjoy the discipline. I'm finally starting to understand that it's like a puzzle to give your body just what nutrients it needs when it needs it. There's a good book on this called Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald. To be honest, I was not ready to comprehend all that info at the time that I read it. Fortunately, Kurt is helping me to gain an understanding of nutrient timing and I'm finally starting to get it.

My biggest challenge to improved eating habits is unlearning much of what culture has taught me about food. Here are examples of habits and ideas I held: (pre-endurance me):
  • Breakfast should primarily be composed of doughy (pancake, waffle) or crunchy cereal products. Start the day off with something sweet, right?
  • Lunch is defined as something between pieces of soft bread along with salty/crunchy finger foods
  • Fruit is for decorating the counter
  • Vegetables are only appropriate at dinner (lettuce and tomato on sandwich at lunch excepted)
  • Dinner must provide noodles, potatoes, or rice (white preferred) in unlimited quantities
I've made great progress, but I still have things to let go of and other things yet to embrace.

I'm beginning to understand that my body needs fewer starchy carbs and fewer calories than I believed it did. I see that fibrous veggies and protein can be a complete meal (yummy too!). I no longer think it's weird to be eating broccoli or brussels sprouts at 9 am. I see that every day does not need to be a brand new culinary adventure. It's OK to eat some of the same things and makes it much simpler too.

The picture above is what I packed to eat during the workday yesterday:
  • diced chicken + spaghetti squash + broccoli + carrot shreds + marinara
  • two eggs + spinach + brown mustard
  • lean grass fed ground beef + broccoli + Frank's Red Hot (enough to make my eyes water!)
So far, so good.

What food habits and assumptions are holding you back?