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Musings on Nutrition

August 27, 2010


No stranger to overeating.

This blog has been radio silent for a long time, and I’m sure most of you know why: I’m on a diet. While I hesitate to use that word because of all the loaded connotations and personal biases people have on it, a diet is exactly what it is: a regimented nutrition plan. We’re all on a diet. Mine’s just stricter than yours.

However, the biggest irony of not posting on a food blog is that for the past two months, I’ve cooked the most I’ve ever had in my entire life. Before my health and fitness journey, I really only cooked dinner, maybe two to three times a week. Now, I am cooking every meal every single day. You read right. Every meal is something I’ve concocted.

Mentally, I always thought I was eating really well since I knew and loved to cook (and bake), but the reality looking back: I loved to cook, but I was too lazy to do it in a more regular manner. Even as I watched Food Revolution, feeling smug in my superiority that I at least knew what I was eating, I wasn’t really eating all that well either. No, I didn’t eat at McDonald’s or deep fried everything. Vegetables were always my friend. I just wasn’t doing enough with the knowledge and skills that I had. On top of which, there was no such thing as portion control, boundaries, or limits for me. Eat until I burst, I tell you! (Again, I blame the immigrant mentality here of overabundant food consumption) And when you’re tired at the end of a work day, what’s a lazy frozen pizza here or there?

Like in the design profession, boundaries actually set you free. For me, the more structured—the more planned—my meals became, the more focus I had, the less chance or excuse to deviate, and the more creative I had to become to make everything delicious. And that’s what I’ve been doing—along with a training plan, of course—for the past two months and I wouldn’t have it any other way. What’s made it easier is that I actually hired someone to make this plan for me. This really helped because it became a no brainer to just follow along; meanwhile, while this was happening, I was reading all I can from all the nutrition and fitness experts I could find. My favourite is Dr. John Berardi, a true scientist and a fitness buff. Everything he espouses is backed up with heavy doses of research as well as common sense. No, it wasn’t him who I hired, though he does run a company called Precision Nutrition that essentially backs up everything he says with a regimented program and information.

Meanwhile, I am pointedly not mentioning the trainer I hired to make the nutrition plan for me. While it’s been working and I enjoy the workouts, further information points to the fact he’s a bit of a plagiarizer: specifically, it looks like he stole from Dr. Berardi and a couple of other fitness gurus, so I might as well just point to the source than him. In the end, I don’t regret hiring him because he took me to the path that seems to be working for me, and I plan to continue on my journey.

What’s the next step? Right now, I think I will use all the knowledge I’ve learned and create my own plan. However, I don’t recommend everyone do this out of the blue by themselves until they’ve proven they can even follow a plan. I’ve been doing this for two months, and so I think I can continue on my own. My suggestion is to find one with your own research online and follow it strictly for a month (of course, if you fall off the wagon, just get back on. stop making excuses), then if it all goes well, customize from there and continue reading as much as you can. There are a lot of conflicting evidence and articles out there so you just have to choose what feels right for you based on the information, then stick to it for a full month. Don’t keep switching things around every week: that’s the road to disaster.

While I’m not going to list my menu out for everyone, or do the calorie and macro breakdown, I do want to say: no, i’m not starving. Yes, I eat carbs, too. Oatmeal, yams, sweet potato, and brown rice in fact. Almost every meal has a veggie side. I only use PAM or olive oil sparingly, spices and herbs liberally.

Final lesson really in this entire exercise to really understand my own body. I respond to food differently from others, along with exercise. Also, deal with this like a scientist: do a 4 week experiment, and adjust depending on goals and responses. Weight fluctuates every day.

Now, because I’m only 4lbs away from my original goal (125lbs), I’m going to reframe my final goal: I want to eventually reach 18% body fat more than I want to reach my final goal weight (115lbs). I think I can actually reach the final goal weight if I really really tried before the end of the year, but the body fat % is another animal all together (and a better indicator than weight over how flabby you are, really). I think I can reach that body fat by next year. Now, you ask, okay, Lea, say you do the impossible and reach your goal weight with the goal body fat %, and you look like an athlete, what then? To continue motivating myself, I will just start giving myself athletic performance goals: # of pushups, # of pull-ups, strength goals via lifting, etc. In short: I do best when I have set goals and continue to challenge myself.

And frankly, why not me and why not now?


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