No offense, Tony.
As promised, I’ve spent the last few days faithfully chronicling my entire food intake, an exercise that has forced me to become a bit more mindful of my eating decisions even as it has revealed how circumstances can alter intentions.
On Day 1, I enjoyed a nutritious breakfast (yogurt, granola and strawberries), a wholesome mid-morning snack (apple, cheese and precisely eight almond crackers) and a healthy mid-afternoon lunch (Caesar salad with a few slivers of lean chicken). I was, by quitting time, in full ascetic mode — smugly satisfied with my disciplined food choices and looking forward to a dinner featuring perhaps a bowl of thin gruel, a crust of black bread and, as a treat, some raw cabbage to go with my glass of tepid water. Bliss!
Then My Lovely Wife phoned to say that any dining option that did not include me accompanying her to our favorite pizza joint would fall far short of adequate on this particular evening. I agreed, of course, and soon we were enjoying a tantalizing beet and asparagus salad, our favorite pie (with goat cheese, onions, portabella mushrooms, roasted red peppers and a type of sausage I can’t pronounce) and a bottle of their best cheap wine. Dessert at some point became inevitable, as did a couple glasses of prosecco, and before you could say Super-Size Me! my caloric persona had morphed from Tibetan monk to Tony Soprano.
Good meal, though.
When we returned home, MLW and I each scrambled for our laptops and started logging in the damage on FitDay.com. After a promising start, my inaugural intake had ballooned to 2,300 calories — a couple hundred more than what I figure I’ll need to consume each day if I want to get a little bit leaner.
My good friend, M.E., and I occasionally like to get together to watch sporting events on the television, at which time we might enjoy a bottle of beer or four. Saturday night, we caught the semi-finals of the men’s college basketball tournament and he was kind enough to provide some sustenance to accompany the fermented beverages. I hadn’t eaten any dinner, so the crackers and cheese were much appreciated. Good beer (not the brands that carry the word light spelled incorrectly) does, however, pack a bit of a caloric wallop (who knew?). Prior to Friday, I never gave it a second thought. On Saturday night, it landed with a thud upon my calorie-meter. Still, the lack of chocolate cake and pizza on Saturday’s menu — not to mention the prosecco and wine — left me with fewer than 2,000 calories on my ledger.
And on both days I managed enough physical activity (according to the FitDay calculator, anyway) to burn more calories than I consumed. This, I believe, is called progress.
The numbers are . . . well, just numbers. The more powerful result of this exercise is the way it forces you to consider your food choices. Because I’ve committed to the tedious work of listing everything I stuff into my gaping maw, I’m feeling less compelled to forage through the fridge or the cupboard and grab whatever looks appetizing at the moment, because all those decisions will be there to stare me in the face at the end of the day. Plus, MLW and I can share our results each evening (carbs vs. protein; fiber and calcium levels, etc.), which creates a certain scientific attraction to the entire endeavor. You know, like: Where’d you get all that magnesium, anyway, and why can’t I have some?
As previously noted, I’ll need to persuade my inner ascetic that this is less about deprivation than about mindfulness, but I’m excited to see where this path leads in the next several weeks.