My son once made the brutal observation, “Dad, with all the working out that you do, how come you don’t look like the guys on TV?” Brutal.
I’ve always known the answer to that question, it’s just not one I’ve ever really wanted to face. It’s diet. The guys he’s referring to have self-control. It’s not that I don’t, it’s just that I’ve always been a firm believer in the idea that life is to be enjoyed.
In an interview for the WIRE magazine, the fitness guru Jack LaLanne once said,
“I’m going to be ninety in September. Everybody else can have a piece of the birthday cake, but not me. I have rules, and I follow ’em. No cake, no pie, no candy, no ice cream! Haven’t had any in seventy-five years. It makes me feel great not eating birthday cake. That’s the gift I give myself.”
That’s not me.
Incredibly, I’m considered a pretty good eater by just about everyone I know. I eat a plant based diet, limiting dairy as well(cheese is the most wonderful exception ever invented!). Our family cooks, so I don’t eat a lot of processed food. We buy organic when possible. Snacking is done with care. My theory has always been that if I eat carefully from the time I get up to dinner time, then I can relax a little and be less discerning then. This has always worked for me. I’ve maintained a weight that doesn’t fluctuate much more than a few pounds on either side of 220. At 6’6” this is not a terrible weight.
Fortunately, I’m able to look at food as fuel better than some. That doesn’t mean I don’t care how food tastes, just that I’m less likely to get hung up on something small like texture, or color. Take breakfast, for example. Almost everyday I have a smoothie.
BUY A VITAMIX
I have owned two vitamix blenders. My current blender is 15 years old and hasn’t lost a step. I don’t know anything about the new models, but these are jet engines for your countertop that would liquify trees if you put them in there!
Here’s a snapshot of what I put in a smoothie.
2 cups Water
½ cup Organic Frozen Berries
1 tsp. Beet powder
¼ cup Hemp seeds
1 cup Spinach
¼ cup Chia seeds
¼ Ground Flax Seeds
1 Scoop of Whey Protein
3 oz. of Tofu
1 tbs. Walnuts or Raw Pumpkin Seeds
¼ cup Oats
(optional ingredients: Cinnamon , Turmeric (not for the taste conscious), cacao nibs)
Nutritional information: According to My Fitness Pal– 628 Calories, Fat 29 grams, Carbohydrates 52 grams, and Protein 48 grams. (only 5 grams of this is saturated fat, and there are no trans fats)
Obviously, what you decide to put in it each day can have some serious impact on flavor, texture, and color. My family loves to mock me as I sit down to a hearty breakfast of grey sludge. However, it never tastes as bad as it looks. (If the protein powder you decide to use is unsweetened you will need to add a banana or an apple to sweeten up the mix.)
For lunch I eat a monstrously huge salad of as many vegetables as we have in the fridge. I usually top it with beans of some kind, and drizzle it with balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil. To this I will add a sprouted grain tortilla or two and some hummus. I generally have an orange or a few dates for dessert.
Aside from these two meals I will not eat until late afternoon. I will enjoy two cups of coffee when I first get up(I like them with unsweetened soy milk) and I will have two cups of tea throughout the day(Plain-green tea), and all the water I can remember to drink.
The real downfall occurs at 4:15 or so. That’s happy hour. That is my true weakness. I love beer and I love snacks. At 60 calories per cup you really can’t beat Angie’s “Boom Chicka Pop” white cheese popcorn. So if it’s not what I’m eating (Dinner is varied but always healthy and fresh-except for pizza night!) then this sort of leaves the beer as the odd man out.
Unlike other foods I really do care what my beer tastes like. I won’t buy low-cal “sports” beers. I like them tall, local, and flavorful. I also like 3. According to fitness pal I take in almost 800 calories from beer alone! And that, people, is why I don’t look like the guys on TV! That is also why I do dry months and dry days during the week.
I could spend an entire post talking about alcohol, but I don’t want to do it. I know that it is my number one weakness, and my number one risk. I know that it not only adds unwanted calories to my diet, but that it affects my sleep, and my memory, and my health in a myriad of ways. I have a healthy fear of it-Far better and stronger people than I have succumbed to it’s charms!
So, in 5 days I will start another dry January. I have no intention of quitting drinking permanently, but I intend to be much more focused on documenting the process. I want to pay particular attention to how I feel, how I sleep, and how it seems to affect my health. Cutting 800 calories a day out of my diet is certainly going to have an affect. I might even have to eat more so I don’t waste away! Wouldn’t that be a nice problem to have?
One reply on “To Beer Or Not To Beer”
I hope I didn’t ready too quickly and miss something but here are my thoughts on this.
1. Life is to be enjoyed. I think you are (still) right about that. If you get great joy, like that old swimmer guy, in avoiding cake and telling everyone about it, then you should do it. But…
2. …if you love something food or beverage related, then it becomes all about portion control. My partner an I have moved to sharing a beer (hard, as she likes dark beer and I like IPA but we make it work occasionally) at times. Yep, one beer, two people! It seems to go against all beer drinking culture and rules but it is a game changer. Get little glasses, really, really good beer and then sip. We’ve taken this portion control to other areas too. We don’t open bags of chips and sit in front of them any more, we get a small bowl, pour some in and nibble.
Now, that all sounds fine but, like you I have self-control issues so that small bowl can turn into a refill (or two). But the magic thing about alcohol is that, as I dialed it back, my tolerance fell through the floor. Now, if I have more than two drinks a day and sometimes with only two, I feel it the next morning which has been motivation enough to not do that. Also, because I am so limited, I try to only consume alcohol I LOVE. Why waste the calories on something I don’t enjoy.
I would love to hear how you feel after January. Is your tolerance affected? Do you go right back to 3 tall boys or does it reset your habits a bit? How does it affect your social life?
Really appreciate reading the intelligent musings of a man going through the same stage in life I am. Thank for the Bradical.
Manikical (I gotta work on that one…)
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