Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ack. ACK! Gak-Attack!

First: how cool is it that my blog has now been commented by April, MR, and MR's Mom? The CR Power Dynasty has recognized my blog as something other than the unfortunate case of verbal diarrhea that it sometimes feels like to me. (And please, no cheery assurances that it's not all so much verbal diarrhea--my self-deprecation is part of my winning personality.) Now, of course, the pressure is on to continue, and I think I actually need some of that "peer pressure" to stay the course, so thanks y'all!

Now on to the Gak Attack

I ate about 2800 calories yesterday, thanks to poor planning coupled with the convenient presence of a Sbarro at the cafeteria at school. The 960-calorie slice of saturated fat basically obliterated my nutrition for the day. I'd been doing field work for my job all afternoon, which meant biking around town in temps in the 20s, getting really cold, and really tired, and really vulnerable. I already knew this was a risk from last time, but somehow hadn't learned my lesson yet, I guess.

Worse, this has been a regular occurrence lately as I struggle to keep up with competing responsibilities and find meal planning to be hard to fit in.

Get this: I spent Sunday planning and executing a working recipe for what I'm calling "MegaSoup," a recipe I engineered in CRON-O-Meter to provide 10% or better of all nutrients per 100-calorie serving (although I eat more like 200-calories worth in a serving). I got pretty close to that goal (it's much easier to engineer a soup than a baked good like the MegaMuffins), and it tastes delicious. The whole recipe provides 11 servings. Along with my MegaMuffins, it should have provided easy, convenient grab-n-go options to take to school with me for the week.

Did my plan work? No. Why? I don't have any food-storage containers suitable for soup (keep it from leaking in my bag, microwave safe, etc.) I forgot to buy some when I was shopping for ingredients, so the soup sits in a big pot in my fridge, waiting to spoil instead of getting eaten. Such SILLINESS!

It seems that when times are tough, the most recently instituted habits are the first to get tossed out the window in favor of the familiar.

I've been stuffing my gob with gak at an alarming frequency and it MUST stop post-haste. I feel terrible. Where's my energy? Where's my feeling of well-being? Where's my self-satisfaction at a job well-done? Arghhh! [As an aside, the Urban Dictionary defines "gak" variously as slang for certain extremely addictive stimulant drugs. Appropriating the term for horrible food, therefore, seems more than appropriate.]

With no good news to report on the nutrition front, I figured this was a good time to point out--to myself as much as to anyone else--one of the seemingly obvious yet wildly ignored hazards of the Standard American Diet (SAD).

Although I did consume impressive quantities of protein and most minerals yesterday, I finished a nearly-3000 calorie day (!!) with just 12% of my vitamin C, 32% vitamin E, and 26% vitamin K. Sound unbelievable? It should, but sadly it doesn't. If that huge quantity of food still deprives me of such important nutrients--and I was actually paying attention to eating good food for the first half of the day--it's really quite startling to imagine how most Americans are getting by.

But there's a bit of good news, a positive way to look at this: the only reason I know about my deficits and overages from yesterday are because despite my feeling gross about what I ate, I dutifully plugged it all into CRON-O-Meter (as you should all be doing), so I could appropriately assess the damage and remind myself why I'm doing all this.

Working with nutrient targets is sort of like working with a financial budget. I'm more likely to watch my spending when I know how much I have and how much things cost, and plan ahead, usually with the help of a spreadsheet or at least notes scribbled on paper. Ignoring all the facts and figures does not lead to financial health (or plain old survival, for that matter). It leads to over spending, late payments, bad credit, poverty, homelessness and death! (Or at least unwanted and unnecessary psychological distress.)

Food budgeting is the same. If we're not tracking our nutrient info in CRON-O-Meter (or something similar), we really have NO IDEA WHAT WE ARE EATING. It's just that simple. So the take home message of this entry is: record everything you eat, no matter how embarrassing or disgraceful it all seems. JUST DO IT. For people like me, seeing the damage in black and white is a very powerful motivator to make voluntary changes to diet.

The software also facilitates a powerful sense of accomplishment: I can't lose 40 pounds and live forever TODAY, but I most certainly can eat food that provides 100% or better of all the important nutrients I need in a relatively small number of calories.

Nutrition software: JUST DO IT!


Deborah said...

Keep it up Chris..Soon you will have talked yourself back into your CR practice! How about getting one of those Thermal Bullets?...no, I'm talking the latest sex toy but this:

That should hold your soup. Go buy one NOW!! (That's in my best Mommy voice) I'm totally rooting for you too. Just do it man!

D :)

April said...

Excellent post!


Anonymous said...

So are you going to post the recipe for this tasty Mega Soup for the rest of us? I'd like to give it a try too!

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris
You're putting into words thing's we've all done. I've made soups and not had containers for them, or made megaleather and ran out of baggies to put portions in. You should have at least one leak proof container you can laddle some of the soup into that can take and be leak proof when you go cycling. Actually, that was not my idea, that was Deborah's.

Soups are great CR foods. And you can add stuff to them to vary them.

Yikes! You cycle in 20 degree windy Chicago weather. I cycle a total of just 2 miles a day - to and from work, but San Francisco's weather is more clement.

Calyb said...

Thanks for the post Chris. It was great and right up my alley!

Ali said...

Lovely post. Please do post your soup recipe when you have time. ali