Category Archives: nutrition

Skinny bitches, stick-figure Barbie dolls, and perfect bodies from the bottom to the top

So here’s Meghan Trainor, a relatively attractive 20-year-old, who caught lightning in a bottle comparing body types to musical terms.

In case you, like me, are clueless about pop culture, this cute little diddy is about how if you’re a girl, every inch of you is perfect from your bottom to your top. No matter what.

Unless, of course you’re a skinny bitch (referenced in the lyrics) or a stick-figure silicone Barbie doll. Those things are bad, you see. Mostly because Meghan’s mom told her that boys like a little more booty to hold at night. (Because this is smokin’ hot and not at all freakish.)

B-I-T-C-H.

So basically, it’s okay to be…curvy–but only in the right places–because it makes boys want to have sex with you. Full disclosure: as a former boy, I can safely say curviness isn’t required. The great philosopher Toby Ziegler was right about them…us.

Show the average teenage boy a lug wrench and his mind will turn to thoughts of lust.

Why would you base your approach to your body on the perceived preference of someone who can be distracted by thoughts of a lug wrench?

Wait a minute…you, a middle-aged dad, are cranky because of lyrics in a pop song? Here’s a link to the dictionary definition of irony. Most people got over this months ago. And I’m not on your lawn!

All well-made points. But so are these:

You don’t need to be a size-zero to be acceptable. That’s stupid. And yes, it’s foolish that plus-size is getting smaller all the time. And that women often pay more for it.  (Possible connection: the lower the number associated with plus size, the more clothes they can charge higher prices for.)

In fairness, Calvin Klein never called this model plus-size. But she wears plus-size sizes.

It’s even getting political, as the reaction to school lunch menus shows. (For the record, the quality of school lunches varies widely. Some of them seem to be pretty innovative to me. I mean, black bean and quinoa quesadilla? Sweet potato fries? Chili with cornbread and Italian roasted cauliflower? Seasoned black beans? Sign me up. Sounds better than the mushy vegetable medley we got when I was a kid.)

It has never been easier to exercise than now.  No matter what you like, there’s a fitness option available for you, from P90X to walking to Zumba. And it’s never been easier to eat right* than it is right now, either. Quinoa doesn’t have to be that yicky stuff.

Why not be okay with yourself because you have a plan and you’re working to that plan–to your plan? Why not learn that if you work at something, you’ll get results, whether that’s fitness or a sport or healthy eating or just going out and finding something fun to do?

Not every body is perfect. Some are unhealthy, whether they belong to overweight people or skinny bitches. Pretending that no matter what you do, it’s perfect doesn’t solve anything.

*–My diet is periodically atrocious, so yes, I am a giant (pun intended, get it?) hypocrite on this point.

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About the Halloween leftovers

Sigh.

If you lead a Chris to candy, you don’t have to make him eat.

And if you’re like me, you’ll have a crapload of leftover candy tomorrow. And that crapload is the start of the fall and winter salute to sugar. Think of it–first you have the leftover Halloween candy. Then, boom, it’s Thanksgiving, which means pie. Then it’s Christmas party after Christmas party, followed by Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. Then there’s football parties, Girl Scout cookies, and St. Patrick’s Day, and finally Easter.

It’ll be May again before the glacier of bad food (well, good-tasting bad food) melts away.

What’s a guy or gal to do?

Here are some strategies for coping:

  • Get rid of the leftovers. If you have individually wrapped candy, take them to work, or church, or to an assisted-living facility. Find someone you know with discipline, who won’t blow through them in the next 15 minutes. Or throw them out, even.
  • Find an article of clothing you want to get into and magnet it to the fridge. Granted, there are drawbacks here. I’m a tall guy so those pants? They’ll look stupid hanging from the fridge. And sometimes the clothing is something that would show off your new, toned body in ways that aren’t appropriate for that particular room. So maybe post a picture of you in the skinny jeans. Or a picture of them from a website or catalog.
  • Stock healthy alternatives. This might work for you, but I struggle with it. I have healthy alternatives, but if there’s cake on the counter and broccoli in the fridge–well, you know what wins. Maybe you will do better than me. I challenge you.
  • Find someone to keep you honest. In Alcoholic Anonymous, you have a sponsor, someone you can turn to when the pressure gets too much. Find someone to fill that role, someone who can help you get past those moments of weakness.
  • Plan your moments of weakness. If you allow yourself, say, Thanksgiving Day to have whatever you want, it might help you get past the urge to go nuts the rest of the time. You can enjoy the food with everyone else, then get right back on board the next day.
  • Eat before you leave. If you’re going to a party where you know there will be good-tasting food that you’ll lose your discipline over, eat before you leave. That can help you regulate the amount you eat when you get there.
  • Be kind to yourself, but firm. If you stumble, if you fall off the wagon, it’s not the end of the world. Forgive yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. A day, or even a few days of cheating doesn’t undo a longer period of time of not cheating. But find a way to get back on the wagon and follow through. Use your accountability partner to help.

If you’ve successfully run this gauntlet before, what’s worked for you?


It’s not about weight

I don’t like The Biggest Loser. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have a month or however long it is to do nothing but work out under the supervision of a successful personal trainer and eat right. I’d even be okay with Jillian yelling at me because it would kind of motivate me. (She’s not on any more, though.)

Yeah, bring it, Jillian.

But that show isn’t for me; it’s for people who are terrified to work out and who carry a ton of problems in addition to bad nutrition and a sedentary life style.

There’s a lot of problems with the program. Many of the contestants, without the structure of the ranch on which the compete or a fitness-industry job, gain a lot of the weight back. (In fairness, it looks like a lot of the winners have done okay, but not all.)

Which brings me to the topic of the post: It’s not about the weight.

A couple years ago, I did something called the Beachbody Ultimate Reset–three weeks of extreme clean eating. I learned a ton about eating well. And when I got done, I’d dropped 17 pounds to 219, the least I’d weighed since college. Since then, my weight has gradually crept up until I topped 250 this spring. It wasn’t the exercise that caused the weight gain. It was the food choices. For me, I knew I had to do better.

So I focused on the food. And for about 90 days, I was incredibly good. I’ve backslid a little since then, but by focusing on the choices I’ve made, rather than the weight, I’ve been able to fit back into the clothes I was wearing right after the reset. (Note: I did finally weigh myself and I weigh a little more than I did then, but I’ve also added muscle.)

When I had my physical this year, the doctor was on me about my weight. I contentedly told him that I was focusing on exercise and making better food choices, and that the weight would come. (He wasn’t impressed; I didn’t care.)

The trick isn’t to lose massive amounts of weight. It took a long time for you to get where you are–let it take time to get back. More important than the scale is your ability to create a plan that works for you and covers the ups and downs of daily life. It’s not how much weight you drop; it’s how you react to the holidays or to that stressful project that work (the one that had you single-handedly adding to the chocolate shortage). It’s how you handle a drive from work to an after-work activity when there are eleven trillion fast food options on the way. It’s about finding a way to work in an exercise program that works for you.

The weight is a symptom of your choices. It helps you keep score about your progress. But it’s not your success or your failure. It naturally follows what you choose to do.

 


A rotten day topped off by half a ton of m&ms

I ate them ALL.

There’s a lyric from an old eighties song that says She had a rotten day, so she hopes the deejay’s gonna play her favorite song.

We’ve all been there. Except at the end of the rotten day, you turn on your favorite station and find that the format changed and it’s now playing Korean love ballads. The song’s not available on Spotify and when you try to play it on YouTube, that little dot thing just spins like your dryer.

What do you do?

Personally, I’ve been known to inhale the entire candy aisle at Publix, but that’s just me. Or, if I’m looking to spend a little less, they serve you free chips and salsa at the bar at Chili’s. And unlike the candy aisle, you can get a vat of beer there, too.

Whatever it is, I do it. You do it. Everyone does it.

They’re called comfort foods for a reason and they typically aren’t leafy greens (though frozen blueberries can work in a pinch).

There’s a problem with comfort foods and trying to change your body and accomplish things. Whatever things made your day stinky are now multiplied that you ate a bunch of stuff you swore you weren’t going to eat. This time…this time…you were going to do better.

And you couldn’t even manage that.

So what? Go to bed and know that there’s another day tomorrow. And if you screw that up, there’s another day after that.

If you’ve started to eat better, eventually, you’ll get back to that. And while you’re mowing through the m&ms, maybe get a book that helps you work through stress using better coping mechanisms.

Or try the frozen blueberries.


Hell is a place where you don’t need any help

One of the best things about the fitness and nutrition journey I’ve been on is the help I’ve gotten from other people. I have never, never asked someone a question about fitness and nutrition and had them blow me off. That include people I work out with. People who make money selling Beachbody products, certified personal trainers, and people I’ve met and talked to on trials.

In my opinion, one of the best things about getting fit and eating right–one of the best things about life in general–is that you need help. That’s the best because it gives you a chance to meet someone new, learn something, and come out of the encounter better than you were. It also allows someone to help another person.

Hell is not other people. It’s the place where other people don’t give a damn.

So if you’re reluctant to start a fitness or nutrition journey–or any other journey for that matter–because you can’t do it all yourself, that’s silly. You’re a starter. If you could do it all yourself, you wouldn’t be.

Sure, maybe you’re self-conscious. Maybe the last time you exercised was because your gym teacher made you. Maybe you’re the guy who pronounces quinoa as quinn-oh-uh. (I was.)

So what? Find people with a passion, ask them for help, and then take a chance.


If you have to have sweets, make your own

I made shortbread today–from a family recipe. The ingredients are simple: flour, confectionery sugar, and butter. As they shortbread baked it way to tasty goodness, I looked up the ingredients to Walker’s Shortbread and Keebler’s Sandies–without the pecans. To my surprise, while their ingredient lists were a bit longer than mine, they weren’t a lot longer.

I did the same thing, comparing Edwards frozen New York cheesecake to an awesome recipe I made last Christmas. Again, there were differences, but they weren’t as big as I imagined. And some of the ingredients I use for my cheesecake–cream cheese, sour cream, and graham crackers–each have ingredients of their own.

So while there are some differences, at least in those two products, they aren’t as big as I thought.

So why are you telling us to make our own? That’s a pain.

That’s precisely the reason I’m telling you to make your own. Because it’s a pain.

Unless you live out in the sticks, it’s relatively easy for you to get food that’s bad for you. Even my parents, who live in a place with no sidewalks and no municipal sewer and water are about a five-minute drive from places where they can buy packaged food. If you live in a place like that, you might have a taste for cheesecake. But when you get there and find out they don’t have that, you sub out and get ice cream or donuts instead.

Where I live, I can drive to Publix in about three minutes and they have cheesecake and everything under the sun. It’s easy to go grab a frozen cheesecake, or a bag of gum drops, or Doritos, or whatever else I might want.

Making it yourself is harder. It takes longer. Having to make it yourself does two things: it allows you to control the ingredients and it raises the bar. Maybe you want some something bad, but you don’t want it enough to make it. And if you do make it, maybe the quality of the ingredients you’ll use are better for you than the ones that get used at the factory.


Celebrate! Just celebrate!

I enjoy a lot of my workouts. Not all of them. But enough of them. Still, when it’s 5 am and I’m getting started or it feels like I’m running through a sauna and my shirt weighs 600 pounds, I don’t dig the experience.

A lot of the time, it’s just hard work.

And eating right can feel like a prison sentence. Seriously, when you’re sitting at the table with fruit, sometimes it doesn’t matter how sweet and glorious pineapple is–not when everyone’s having a big old slab of cheesecake with fluffy whipped cream on top.

That’s why it’s important to look for and celebrate your gains (or losses), even if they’re just small.

  • Do those pants fit differently? Is that shirt hanging a little differently?
  • When you went out for a walk, did you run a little bit? If you ran a little before, did you run a little more?
  • Was that thing that always totally kicked your butt a little easier this time?
  • Did someone say you look really good?
  • Do you notice a difference when you look in the mirror?
  • Did you say no to that sugary or fatty thing everyone else was eating?
  • Did you eat a good breakfast every day this week?
  • Did you substitute better items at snack team (even if they aren’t perfect)?
  • Did you make or try something good for you that tasted better than you ever expected?
  • Did you have a day from hell and forego the comfort food (even if it just happened once)?

If so…

Nice work!

And if you didn’t, that’s okay, too. There’s always tomorrow!