Saturday, March 19, 2011

My Eating Problem

Stealing Glances
Boys have been taught not to stare at magnificent specimens of beauty, even if they are on display. It's impolite. Imagine the stress created for guys in everyday situations. A colleague and myself were proctoring a group of students on a state assessment. Our proctor chairs were very close to each other and I got views to which no one else in the room was privy. I'm a bit taller than her and therefore in conversation I had to look down over her shoulder so I could look into her, umm, eyes. She brought some crackers and placed them on the table in front of some books, hidden to all but us. She ate maybe 4 and recognized that I was stealing glances at the nice little saltines, like white flour flavored cleavage wrapped in a sleeve-like bikini sprinkled with salt. Look ahead, look at the food. Look left, back to the food. Don't linger. Girls know what's happening and so did the saltines. She noticed my gaze and made the mistake of offering to share with me. Shortly thereafter, she got up and went to use the facilities. Don't leave me alone with the food! The sleeve was gone before I realized I had eaten. I was embarrassed when I noticed the empty, decrepit piece of plastic. She laughed. The incident made for good hazing from her to me for the next couple of years, until her retirement.

Eating can become as subconscious as breathing, happening without me even knowing it. Chocolate in our house has a half-life rivaling that of lithium-8 (under 10 seconds if you didn't want to look it up). The Wife hides bags of chips in the house to ensure that she can have a few. Seriously. She only wants a few and has to behave like a pirate burying her treasure. When they are getting close to the expiration date, the bag wondrously is unearthed, appears on top of our refrigerator and magically disappears by the end of the day. She's got that kind of forward thinking. I'm still looking for the treasure map. 

As evidenced by my training log, I like to eat. Wait. I mean that the bathroom scale is providing evidence of my love for training. See, here's where I get lucky. Even though numerous of friends and family have blamed me for their weight gain, preferring to compete in the Calorie Olympics I often call dinner, I have remained relatively stable. I graduated high school at a plush 155. I graduated college at a whopping 157. I am currently sitting at a boisterous 161, with the barometer falling. That's roughly 18 years of steady state gravitational force with only marginal fluxes in downward acceleration. I have, at a low point, made it up to my fattest level of 175, been ashamed, and come back down. Here's where my lifestyle benefits me.

Achieving Balance
I can't remember a time in my life where I went a full 2-weeks without working out. Maybe if I search the database back to junior high school a patch of gray area might appear. Starting in 8th grade, I ran track. High school featured cross country running, swimming, baseball, and track (in my senior year). College featured swimming. NCAA swimming starts in September and endures through March. I cross trained in the off-season with running. I had the fortune of rooming with a guy who was just as active as me post-graduation. We did 2 marathons together. Then I married a hot chick who was a soccer player. Soccer players are really runners in disguise, as they chase balls as motivation for their running. Shortly before marriage, I heard about this triathlon fad and got hooked. Three and two-thirds Ironman races later (not counting all the sprints, intermediates, and other stuff in between) and we arrive at present day. All of this activity has allowed me to fit into the same clothes I had in the 90's,much to The Wife's dismay (my clothes weren't cool then either).

Mixing Pleasures
I have heard this line from various people throughout the years, "You can eat whatever you want." They're referring to my exercise habits and concluding based on my waist line. Whereas this is true for me, it's equally true for everyone. You too can eat whatever you want. If food is that important to you, then eat it. Go right ahead. I'm not gonna stop you or look down on you. Heck, I might even join you. If eating is your pleasure, then go pleasure yourself.

Eating is the aspect of my life probably holding me back from truly achieving my fitness goals, I.E. qualifying for the big stuff like Kona. Food can be more than pleasure. In reality, it's fuel. NASA spends millions, maybe billions, for engineers to develop better fuels for its machines. Some governments fight wars over fuel for our vehicles (but not the American government, we'd never sink that low). I've been involved in conversations where men, real hard-working blokes, argue over the pros and cons of using Exxon brand 87-octane versus Mobile brand 87-octane (hint: they are exactly the same as they come from the same company). They have this parley over pizza and beer. They spend more time considering which refined fossil fuel is best for their beat-up pickup than considering what is actually providing them with the energy to have the conversation. I'm exactly like them, minus the deep thoughts over oil companies. I choose fuel for both my body and car with roughly the same criteria, frugality.

If I use the fuel-before-pleasure technique, I'd have a much better engine coupled with a larger grocery bill. In order to do that, I have to hinder some of my negatives and replace them with positives. Mostly this means eating better. Unprocessed foods beat processed foods. Chicken beats beef. Wild rice beats white. Vegetables beat fruit which beat cheese. Pizza should be monthly, at best. Hot wings get reserved for the Superbowl (which I don't watch anyway, so that bullet is dodged).

I'm definitely not there yet, but I am dreaming. This dream is slowly making it's way into my reality. Breakfast of oatmeal with almonds and flax seed. Lunch with romaine, mixed vegs, and blueberries. Snacks of apples and trail mix (spliced with M&M's, serving as evidence of my humanity). I haven't given up my mocha latte, granola bars, or adding brown sugar to my oatmeal mix. I continue to snack on pretzels and crave pretty much any dessert. The answer to, "You want a cookie?" is, and will continue to be, "YES." Same for cupcakes or any other item in the 'frosted' food group. At least I'm not actively making these foods or searching them out. The food finds me. Still, pizza only once a month? That may not be doable on any plane of existence.


  1. Due to its carb:protein ratio, I reserve beer for recovery days and weeks. Or when it's hot. Or when I'm thirsty. Or when I'm visiting the BIL (he makes great beer). Or when... I have to stop now.