The goals I have set for myself are not easily attainable. If they were, we wouldn't be living in the middle of something as ludicrous as an obesity epidemic, and it's blatantly clear why we are: Our existences have become increasingly sedentary, with most of our jobs and hobbies involving a lot of sitting and staring at a screen. Meanwhile, mad scientists in secret underground lairs have scientifically formulated the food we consume to be as cheap and addicting as humanly possible, which means deep frying beef, potatoes, and various corn products, then injecting them with as much salt as possible. Frankly, I'm amazed the situation isn't worse when you consider you can get your entire caloric intake for a day from your goddamn brunch in this country.
This is especially true in a place like Portland, where men on the street try to sell you things like deep fried hamburgers and chicken & dumplings housed in an ice cream cone. I had all of these things working against me when I was at the peak of my weight problem. I was a pizza delivery driver at (ugh) Papa John's, which meant 90% of my job was sitting. And when you're a broke college student, free pizza four days a week doesn't seem too bad until you have to start shopping for new shirts. Also losing weight kinda puts a damper on that whole “socializing with friends” thing, especially when bar food is slightly above nuclear waste and slightly below swamp mud on the list of things you should probably avoid digesting.
The point I'm trying to make is that this isn't a matter of me turning on my Kinect four times a week and magically turning into Channing Tatum by June. It's just one part of the lifestyle renovation that needs to take place for the dramatic results I hope to achieve. No more late night runs to the 24 hour hotcake house with my roommate for eggs Benedict. No more permanently stocked mini fridge full of RC cola in my room. No more free pizza. Missing a workout is off the table. My current post-college existence of flingin' pie, playing videogames, and debauchery fueled evenings is far too kush to not be able and squeeze in a run. It's simply inexcusable.
So this is to help you get a better idea of everything else that is going into this outside of the videogame itself. I'm a little more than two weeks into my current program with Nike+ Kinect Training, and the next entry in this series will begin the dissection of its still beating heart to laud its fantastic highs, its puzzling quirks, and one simply infuriating bug. This is more about my diet, and the smart decisions I try to make on a daily basis to maintain a well balanced lifestyle.
But before that, I feel I should put forth a disclaimer: I ain’t a nutritionist, or a doctor. Nobody in the fields listed above were consulted in any way on my diet or regiment, and I pretty much made it up by doing some research online and simply thinking about healthy things that I like to eat. So please don't sue if you choke on a grapefruit.
When I decided to map out my food intake, I wanted to stick with a couple of themes. Firstly, it had to be relatively inexpensive. Now I say relatively because, after changing my eating habits to almost completely remove take-out food, the amount I’m spending on food has dropped dramatically. Wanna get pissed at yourself? Get receipts for every meal you eat not from the grocery store and tally it up at the end of the week. You may be somewhat surprised and revolted. Even when I buy mostly organic products, at the most my food is costing me around $60 a week compared to the $100 or so I was dropping when I was eating at the thai place across from my house every other day. Those meals add up fast.
The other main theme is one of simplicity. Not just in the types of food, but in how easy they are to prepare, handle, and transport. There's a very primal feel to a lot of the food I'm eating. Fruits, veggies, beans, rice, chicken, milk, oats. IE: shit that comes out of the ground that we've been eating for thousands of years for a reason. They're easy to produce, all house vital nutrients, and are, for the most part, delicious. Also you don't need a cookbook for a banana. I'm big on foods that only require hands to properly eat.
Then there's the protein powder.
Protein is super important for muscle generation and maintenance, but unlike fats and other nutrients, your body doesn't have a way of storing it, so daily intake is key. The average adult male needs about 50 grams of protein a day, but if you happen to be 6 foot 2 inches tall with a big frame and you're working out six times a week, that number is probably closer to 70. You'd need to eat around eleven large eggs to get 70 grams, so my low calorie, high nutrient diet isn't exactly conducive to meeting or exceeding that number on its own. Whey protein shakes are a super efficient way to insure your body is getting enough protein, and unfortunately the bro culture that surrounds them has clouded how people look at them. I still feel this slight jolt of douche run down my spine whenever I head to the check out counter with two drums of this stuff. The MuscleTech jug in the picture above is the brand I use the most because its the right mix of price with quality, as the cheap brands tend to taste like cement sprinkled with cocoa powder. It's probably the most expensive aspect of the diet, as a month's supply of brotein works out to around $36, but it's vital.
The day always starts with a pink grapefruit. It's stocked with vitamin C, antioxidents, and it supports strong joints and can dramatically lower the risk of heart disease and prostate cancer. And, as a kid who grew up on mega warheads, I find their intense sourness to be quite dilectable. Then I'll have some Total whole grain cereal in fat free organic milk, which is all kinds of good for you. I also take a daily multivitamin
LUNCH Sometime after breakfast is usually when I end up working out, so lunch is usually where the brotein gets involved, as I'll usually down a double shot of it immediately after a run or a Kinect session. The shake works out to about 340 calories and 60 grams of protein, so it's fairly substantial. I'll usually accompany it with a banana and an apple, or I'll grab the oat silo and get some oatmeal in.
Resisting pizza while working at Papa John's was probably the most difficult part of the whole ordeal when I went through this last year. Literally piles of free pizza with managers begging you to take it home with you. Granted, my roommates were very thankful, but it was extremely annoying to deal with. Luckily, my college degree has enabled me to finally break away from being a driver at Papa John's. Now I work as a prep cook at a local, far nicer pizza establishment. Hey at least I upgraded jobs! Most recent college grads can't even say that.
The free pizza bit is true here as well, but unlike the corporate pizza factory I worked at before, I now work in a fully stocked kitchen capable of making much more than pizza. So, after looking at the potential health benefits of every ingredient in the store, I came up with the super salad you see above. It's mostly spinach (superfood), with carrots (iron), onions, chicken breast (protein), garbanzo beans (great fiber source), apples (superfood), almonds (superfood), and cuccumber (negative calories). Furthermore, I'm in charge of making the salad dressings at our restaurant, so I'll make a little batch of our spicy Asian dressing without the oil just for myself. It's super tasty and it gives me something to eat at work that isn't pizza. You can taste its goodness. Best of all: it's free. Every time. It's a lot easier to stomach eating the same dinner over and over again when it doesn't cost you anything, and my non workday dinner of baked chicken, steamed broccoli, and brown rice mixes it up when I need something different.
How To Snack While Gaming
Hey man just because I'm dieting doesn't mean I don't value the importance of having some grub handy while in that extended XCOM session. But it doesn't have to be a bag of Doritos, a 6-pack of Mountain Dew, and a pizza. May I suggest some carrots? A bowl of grapes, perhaps? That's a little bit of a stereotypical diet answer, so how about something you probably like: Popcorn. Specifically, air-popped popcorn, which has tons of antioxidants and fiber, and a giant bowl of it probably only contains 200 calories or so. Furthermore, it's insanely cheap. You can buy popcorn kernels in bulk for about as much as dirt, and you can get an air-popped popcorn machine for under $20. But don't destroy your healthy snack with a half stick of butter! Instead, sprinkle nutritional yeast and cayenne pepper all over it and douse it with some soy sauce for a super tasty and guilt free dose of game fuel. The cayenne pepper actually speeds up your metabolism.
The Mountain Dew may be the hardest thing to replace. I drink a lot of green tea, and the theanine in tea will lower your stress level after you stupidly kill your captain by blindly running into the alien crash-site. Really, other than brotein and occasionally tea, I drink tons of water, which brings me to quite possibly the most important tool at my disposal during this process:
The Big Ass Water Bottle (BAWB)
BAWB has been tethered to me since January 1st. It's actually a two quart juice dispenser ideal for kool-aid consumption, but its proven very useful in my goal to drink 100 ounces of water a day. It's big, sturdy, the cap doesn't pop off easily so it doesn't spill, and I don't have to fill it up every fifteen minutes. It's with me when I play games, it's with me when I work out, and it's next to me right now while I type this. Instant refreshment within arms reach nearly at all times. It's a good way to control cravings too, as a swig from BAWB could save you from an aimless trip to the kitchen. In short: BAWB has my back.
The thing I want to stress about changing your diet is that it's easier than you think. People often cite the convenience and speed of fast food or already prepared meals as their primary reason for eating them, quite frankly that's a bunch of hogwash. It doesn't take a lot of time to start throwing down on some fruit and vegetables, and other than the chicken dinner which does take some time to cook and prepare, most of the food I eat takes no time to prepare at all.
This is the most important part of the process. All the work I do on the road and in the basement would be for nothing if I ruined my workout with a cheeseburger afterward. Also it feels great knowing your putting in such great fuel for your body after sending it through the proverbial meat grinder. Like I said, no scientific studies were conducted to check the validity of the nutritional statements listed above, but hopefully someone could pull out a few nuggets of wisdom and start down the path of better health. Anyone else here have a specific diet they follow? Let us know how you fuel yourself and maybe what I could be doing better in the long run.