Day 885: Never Negotiate With the Food Table (Day 23 of 100)

Big event at work today, and it’s one of those events where there will be a speaker and “light refreshments provided,” which usually translates as mixed sandwiches, crackers and cheese, squares, and possibly a cake. A Food Table.

Sandwiches are my nemesis, as I think I’ve mentioned before. I don’t know why, exactly. I’m not a sandwich guy at home. I rarely make sandwiches and I don’t desire sandwiches in my routine life. But put me in front of a table of half-sandwiches made by somebody else, and it’s like a terrible switch flips in my brain. Sandwiches!

Texting with my wife (4 a.m. start, she was at work for 5), she asked why I don’t stick some snacks from this event in the Magic Bag, as that’s kind of the whole Magic Bag idea. After some reflection, I realized that it’s easier for me to avoid the Food Table than to negotiate with the Food Table.

Once I’m in a relationship with the Food Table, there’s a lot that can go wrong. I can crumble in the face of sandwiches. I can just kind of pile stuff on a plate absent-mindedly as I talk to somebody else. I can start doing that mental math-game calculus of well I did do twenty minutes of spin this morning so just one more…

Avoiding the food table, though, is a delight. Pure and simple. Just avoid the food table.

More importantly, don’t start playing the mental math game of what-counts-what-doesn’t-count, etc.

So yes. It’s going to take some willpower in the face of sandwiches, but there will be no Food Table negotiations on this day.

Day 879: The Magic Bag (Day 17 of 100)

I pack a lunch, which is nothing special, but in my bad habit periods I also have a tendency to go down and pick something up at the school cafeteria, or meet a friend at a pub and order fries and a soft drink, and… stuff. I’m also a terrible home snacker. It’s a problem that we’ve talked about a lot here before.

This isn’t a new thing I’m doing, but it’s a little story I’ve made up for myself about a thing I’m trying to stick to (one day at a time!).

I have a magic bag.

Every morning, I can put whatever I want into the magic bag. Usually it’s a salad with some legumes for protein, some fruit, a snack like half an avocado or a cup of peanuts in the shell, or something. But I can put whatever I want in there! If I want to put a can of soda in there, I can. I can put a bag of Skittles in there. I can put eight bags of Skittles in there! As long as I have it in the house at the beginning of the day, I can put whatever I want in the bag.

And then, for the rest of the day, I can only eat what I’ve put in the bag.

It’s the kind of Cartesian drink/don’t drink thing that works well for me. I operate best with do/do-not, not shades of grey (you can open the bag of Skittles but only eat five). Literally putting my food into a bag and saying “anything outside this bag is forbidden is easier on me, mentally, than saying “you can eat whatever you want, just be sensible about it.”

Not everyone’s wired like me! That’s pretty obvious at this point. But these are the kinds of things that help. Magic bag!

Day 734: I Packed a What?

Day Two of Cat Bonkers — I slept in the guest room with the second cat last night, as we felt bad that he has to be locked away until the cats re-familiarize themselves with each other. Pets!

My wife was up at 4:30 thanks to First Cat deciding that in my absence she was a suitable target; she was, obviously, because she got up at 4:30 and decided to share that joy with me. Fed the cats with her around 5, and packed a lunch.

But it’s the weekend! I’m eating at home! Why pack a lunch?

Because I think it might help.

It’s not something I’m committing to on the regular, but I’m really enjoying salads for lunch, and I am trying my very best to adhere to the “plan it in the morning and stick to that plan”… er, plan. The best way to do that, I figure, is to actually pack my mid-day food and whip up supper before I leave for the radio show, and thereby know my food for the whole day before my day really begins.

So I guess I’d better get cooking!

Day 722: I’ll Have a Food Christmas

It’s pre-Christmas cooking day! We’re doing a whole Indian thing this year; I’ve already done the big shop yesterday, and so far this morning have made the spiced mixed nuts and… ah, I can’t remember what it’s called, but celeriac and beet and lemon and spices. Kind of a cole slaw dealio.

Today’s about 90% prep, and tomorrow I’ll be rocking the cooking while my wife works, and then it’ll be a merry Christmas afternoon for both of us.

Good food, too. Real food. I fought off the urge to buy snacks and discount chocolate yesterday, and will today as well (there are a couple more things to pick up).

REAL FOOD, BABY! It’s not a panacea — I wound up snacking on bread and chutney last night, for instance, I didn’t need to do that, but it wasn’t “sweet crap food,” at least. I still need to eat intelligently. But cutting down on my sugar and fried-stuff intake will be a good start.

Day 719: Cookie Sick, Time for Change

Oh, wow. Yesterday was Holiday Cookie Day, and I legits feel bad today. Physically and emotionally.

So let this be a PHOENIX FROM THE COOKIE ASHES kind of moment. I could pull it together to quit drinking. I’ve done it for 719 days. I can pull it together to not eat garbage, and maybe that’s the next big thing.

I don’t eat garbage now.

I can cold-turkey this — I did it for booze — and why not start today? I have no holiday parties ahead of me, one two-day family visit (but they’re not big junk food people), and I think it’s been well established that I’m good at quitting, but not good at moderating.

Time to quit.

It’s a different scenario, and that’s going to be a factor. People drink, but they don’t, like, ply you with booze. There aren’t shots lined up in the company coffee room because somebody made a bunch of shots for their kid’s birthday party and there were shots left over.

On the other hand, the social buy-in to “I’m eating better” is much lower-key than “I’m not drinking.” Nobody says “you’re not fun anymore because you don’t eat cookies.”

Here we go, then. Simple rules:

  • No casual snacking. Planned food only.
  • No making recipes with more than, like, 1 tablespoon of sugar.
  • No goofy cheats.

It’s December 21, 2018. Let’s do this thing.

Day 701: Feels Close to 1000

It’s weird how 701 days is about 10 months from 1000 days, but a thousand days feels… close, suddenly. And a good benchmark to aim for. It’s been almost two years, and I think a fair bit of self-discovery, but not really achieving the fitness/exercise goals I was aiming for in January of 2017.

It’s pretty easy to see where the flaw is: I love eating bad food, I don’t like keeping track of bad food eating, and I’ll take any excuse to stop tracking food eating and start eating bad food again.

When you put it that way, it seems like a pretty simple fix, doesn’t it?

  1. Stop eating bad food
  2. Keep track of the food you eat
  3. Repeat forever

I mean… duh.

So maybe the problem’s been I’ve been trying the whole enchilada at once: the diet, the tracking, the exercise, all the beans. All the marbles. All the bean-marbles.

But with 300 days to look at, maybe I should try to build better habits one habit at a time, instead of crashing into the mountain repeatedly trying to do a bunch of things at once.

Food tracking seems to be the hardest, so possibly it’s a matter of starting there and just trying to go hard on food tracking for, say, 50 days. One-sixth.

Not to say I shouldn’t strive for the other stuff too, but if I have to pick one thing to not compromise on for 50 days, it’s food logging. So, to January 22, 2019. Good thing I don’t drink, or this might be tough on the 1st…

Day 662: Make Whatcha Eat, Eat Whatcha Make

What does a perfect me eat?

What we cook.

I mean, not to the exclusion of all else at all times, but — and we get back to this periodically — eating out with intention, not because it’s late or I’m tired or whatnot.

At its heart, this is more about planning and preparation than where the food comes from, but my bad habit is getting sucked into free / offered / available food. Because it’s there. It’s a problem.

So in the realm of “simple rules I find it tough to follow”: make whatcha eat, eat whatcha make. My wife and I tried on a resolution in January to not buy anything with more than two ingredients in it and strive to make most of what we consume, including sauces, crackers, etc.

We did a good three or four months hardcore, and a lot of it has stuck — instead of buying ketchup I’ll make hot sauce or a homemade barbecue sauce; we still get things like chips but as an exceptional treat. But I’ve also drifted into easy food, particularly sugar, and Faculty Sandwiches, over the course of the year.

So I’m not saying Perfect Me would do this to 1000%, but he’d pack a lunch and have a plan for dinner if he was going to be working late. He’d abstain at free-food events and stick to the plan for the day.

The last bit is where the “healthy” part comes in. It’s entirely possible to make all our own food and be a disaster. I find it easy!

But planning the day in the morning, making most of what you consume so you understand, intimately, what you’re eating, and sticking to that plan is paramount. That’s what Perfect Me would do. I’m not there yet, but it’s a goal!

Day 577: Whole30 August!

After exercise this morning, chopping fruit — a fruit salad is the first food for August, kicking off a month of disgustingly healthy eating.

I have been a bit remiss — well, also busy — so I haven’t actually really read up on Whole30 yet. This is me kind of leaning into my wife’s enthusiasm; she wants to try it, I’m happy to give it a shot, but I haven’t really done the work yet. The program rules are here, I just have to read them.  So a little homework for me once this is done.

* * * UPDATE * * *

Whole30 is stupid if you’re not a meat-eater. They have a web page on it, but neither of us had read it carefully and it’s essentially a whole page of “but you really should eat meat!” That’s a non-starter for my wife, and I’m supportive of her on this, so that’s that.

Instead, we’re going to draft up our own plan this morning — expect a month of tons of vegetables, legumes, and fruit, no grains at all and absolutely no sugars. It’s’a be rough!

The challenge here is really going to be prep time. Making this stuff is hard. Scheduling for it is going to be a workout.

In other words, this is another sprint — August Sprint this time. Here we go!



Day 467: Sadness Cookies

A short one today: a good friend and lover of dogs had to say goodbye to a friend the other day, so I’m trying to juggle everything while baking cookies, which means I’ll have to run downstairs momentarily to take them out of the oven.

The good news is I have my mornings down to a science to the point that I can sort of slide baking cookies into my routine. Exercise is ON POINT this week, even if food hasn’t been great — this circuit training thing is destroying me, in a good way, four days a week, and rowing and running are going strong.

Food and weight? I’m in a holding pattern, and I’m okay with it. I’m not losing weight the way I want, but I’m not GAINING weight, and with everything going on, honestly logging what I eat and tracking my weight, sleep, mood etc. every day is a good baseline. I don’t think I can be motivated on all of the things, all of the time, so my motivation is sliding from diet to volunteer business. That’s okay.

Quick blog post, quick recording, off to get cookies out of the oven!

Day 451: Maintaining

There’s not much to report, because things have been going quite well. Work is as always a little nuts; one reason for the rush is I have to get in early to Deal With Stuff. All good news, just good news that requires work. “Positive stress,” if you will.

I’ve been rocking it on food the last few days, but hunger becomes palpable in the mid-afternoon. Not, like, genuine deep hunger but that “I want to eat something” feeling. Powering through it instead of getting a snack at work or on the way home or when I get home is… really challenging, actually. It’s reminding me of the original stop-drinking phase when there was a kind of routine nag in the back of my head about what I’d normally do to ease discomfort.

It’s taken me a year to get from working hard to get over booze to working hard to get over food. Not that I’ll ever stop working to get over booze; it’s still a pretty constant temptation, especially now that I’ve “beaten” it — that’s just a different vector of temptation. Food, on reflection, is much the same. A few days really on top of a regimen and my brain starts saying “ahh, you got this on lock, let’s eat a bag of cookies.”

“Perpetual vigilance forever” is a terrifying concept, but maybe that’s what it takes. Active, aggressive vigilance until the vigilant behaviour becomes the norm. It sure doesn’t happen quickly.