food

Verbagram 4, A Haiku, and other stuff

Falafel, so plain
Until fried in surprise form,
Cooked like a doughnut.

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In other news, I am headed off this weekend to what promises to be a most rewarding writing retreat. Aside from the great editors and agents I’ll get to meet, I’ll also get to finally meet a person I’ve already worked with and spoken to on the telephone, the fantastic Ami Hendrickson. Two other writers I know are going, as well, and the whole thing is masterminded by an editor I know via my MFA program, Melissa Manlove.
I can’t wait. Except for the enormous pile of work I have to do before I take off on Friday morning. Yuck!
Okay. More later.

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

The 30-day experiment, Part II


So. About a month ago. I told you all that I was going to keep track of whatever I ate for 30 days straight. Part of this was an attempt to lose weight. I know from long history that I’m faster and stronger when I’m lighter, so I thought I’d give this a go. Also, my food-scientist husband has long barked that I’m not allowed to complain about a little extra pudge if I don’t do everything I possibly can to fight the pudge, and he claims that keeping a food log will help with that on top of the exercise.
I should say that I have a love-hate relationship with exercise. Like anything, I hate knowing that I *have* to do it. (Think back to when you were forced to read anything for British Literature 101. I mean, didn’t that make you want to rip your hair out?)
But the love part of it comes when I’m with friends, or when I’m feeling strong. There was a time when a male friend would say, “Going for a quick seven-miler, wanna come?” And I’d say yes, and keep up. Those days are long gone and I miss them.
So I thought I’d see what happened if I exercised on a minimal basis and just kept a food log. How would I feel? What would happen? I’ve never even tried such a thing before.
Well, I did it, for 30 days straight.

Photo: About.com

Here is what I learned:

  • A lot of food manufacturers ask you to prepare the food with way too much oil. Prime example, popcorn. The package asks for three tablespoons of oil per 1/3rd cup of unpopped corn. People, this is an obscene amount of oil. In fact, it’s 420 calories worth and 45 grams of fat worth. That’s way, way too much. I used a massive pan and 1/3rd cup of unpopped kernals and got away with a tablespoon of oil, and it was delicious. I eat a lot of popcorn, so this matters to me. The same with rice and couscous. You don’t need the oil at all if you get the prepackaged mixes.

image: simplyrecipes.com

  • What does a tablespoon of oil or cream look like? Now I know. I used to consider myself a pretty good eyeballer, but I’m much better at it now. Also, a tablespoon of hummous goes a long, long way.
  • Fruit and veg is very, very low in calories. I knew this ahead of time, but I was shocked by how few calories there are in a navel orange (64!) or in salsa (15 per 2-tblsp serving).
  • One pre-packaged chicken breast is actually two servings. People, growth hormone is a scary thing. The chicken breasts we have in our freezer right now are HUGE. They’re easily two servings, so I adjusted our dinners to correspond to true servings.
  • It is HARD to count calories when you’re out. I must confess to skipping a few of those things. One night, Jim and I were out while he was getting an award at work, and I stopped after trying to figure out whether or not the meatball I ate was small, medium, or large.

Photo: SturgisJournal

Okay. So here’s what happened. I kept track of fat grams and basic calories. The results were fascinating

  • In the first few days, I way overdosed on fat grams and came in way under in terms of daily calorie count.
  • I grew to like looking over the days and calories. It became like another way to organize myself.
  • But then I got tired of it.
  • I also got tired of not exercising. And then I had to work extra hard just to find the calories to make up for the exercise. (I was shocked to see that the US RDA for calories assumes a totally sedentary lifestyle. I guess it’s the easiest baseline, but…)

In the end, I didn’t really get anything out of my 30 days. In fact, while my weight did redistribute itself (I noticed a narrower waistline after just a couple of days), I actually gained three pounds over my 30 days.

I won’t be doing the food log thing again. But I am much more cognizant of what I’m putting into my mouth.

I also think that’s the end of the 30-day projects for a bit, although today I’m trying something called the Pomodoro method (work for 25 minutes; take a 5-minute break; repeat until four cycles and then take a 15-20 minute break).

Maybe I’ll check in on that a little later.

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.