Synching mind and body on an impromptu 3-day fast

 

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My dad on his 74th birthday, with his two youngest grandkids, Kobi and Kyla.  Choosing a meaningful finish line is one of the things I’ve learned about fasting. Dad’s birthday party was not only a great meal, but gave me a chance to savor the “bonus years” since  his recovery from cancer.

I’ve been reflecting quite a bit, during an unplanned three-day fast, on the nature of that “when one door closes another one opens” concept.

 

Seems like I’d no sooner got in a groove with an injury-recovery workout routine than I realized, in talking to someone who’d recently recovered from plantar fasciitis, that a big chunk of that routine – mini walking sessions on the concrete floor in our rec room – was surely slowing my recovery.

 

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Intriguing ideas from the planet’s most intriguing people,  divided up into three sections: Healthy, wealthy and wise. 

Given that I’d been wanting to move a couple of my five daily mini workouts outdoors anyway, to tackle some heart rate-raising overdue yard work, this seemed like a good time to do that. And after reading Tim Ferriss’ blueprint for his monthly three-day fast in his new book, Tools of Titans, I decided, why not?

 

This fast was so much easier because there were no nagging doubts. I knew I wasn’t going to eat anything between Thursday dinner and Sunday dinner, so I wasn’t plagued with that constant “should I or shouldn’t I?” question. So there I was, outside raking frozen leaves after not having eaten a crumb for two days, and it just wasn’t that big a deal. It’s like my mind and body were on the same page: We both knew I was carrying around enough spare fat to fuel leaf raking. There was no interior whining.

Would this have happened on a run? Probably not, because I’ve never managed to shut down the “feed me!” impulse when it comes to running. I’d never attempt a fast while I’m running, especially if I’m training for something.

But in this case, a mini fast provided a chance for reflection. Much like a marathon, it’s a good way to synch my daily “in the moment” decision-making mindset with some higher part of my mind that operates at the managerial level. The player vs. the coach, if you will. The coach knows that what’s being asked of the body can be done. The player must have faith in the coach’s game plan.

One key thing I’ve learned in four fasts over the past year is that it helps to have something cool waiting at the finish line – a meaningful meal to look forward to breaking your fast. Last month I really wish I would’ve broken my fast on Christmas Eve, for instance, but due to logistics I stopped a day early.

This time around, I scheduled my fast-breaking meal for my dad’s birthday party – not just because I knew there would be plenty of good food, but because his 74th birthday feels meaningful to me.

I vividly recall Dad being 64 when he got cancer. At the time, not knowing what might happen, I remember thinking, “Oh please, if he could just make it to 70. Couldn’t we have just a few more years?”

These bonus years are such a gift. Without them, Dad never would’ve met his two youngest grandchildren, or seen his older grandkids grow up into fine young men and women, two of whom have now graduated from college. He never would’ve experienced the satisfaction of going out on top when he later retired as president of the top-performing bank in the state of Indiana. He and Mom never would’ve gotten around to remodeling their house into the perfect spot for big family get-togethers.

And I never would’ve had the chance to interview him for a memoir that wound up being this year’s Christmas gift to my nieces and nephews. Having all those long talks, hearing all those stories about what shaped his life, was the best gift of all.

It kind of puts eating, and not being able to run for a while, in perspective.

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The ‘FitBit effect’on a family gathering

When we arrived at my parents’ house for dinner yesterday, four or five people who on any other given Sunday might be planted around a chip bowl trying out a new dip were zooming around the house racking up FitBit steps instead.

As more people joined the procession, and it got harder to talk as walkers spread out over the three-room “course,” at one point no less than 10 people were circling the family room table at once so we could make up plans for a treadmill challenge.

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There are “only” 8 people circling the table in this photo, but at one point at least two more were in on this “walking conference meeting.”

The idea was to see who could accumulate the most mileage in one of two categories: 10 minutes at a 10% incline or 15 minutes at 15%. It’s based on a recent YMCA challenge I wanted to repeat on a weekly basis, and this seemed the perfect environment to try it in.

Though the workout proved harder to replicate because the treadmills are set up differently – the bar on Dad’s is in an awkward spot at such a sharp incline – we quickly adapted the challenge to a “no hands allowed” format that’s tougher to do and cuts down on speed dramatically but will allow for more improvement over time.

My niece Madison hit the 30,000 steps mark yesterday to win that challenge, and my nephew Mason won the 10-minute treadmill challenge at .669 mile.

Ultimately it’s not so much who wins any given Sunday, but how much people are able to improve their scores each week. (The results were entered on a spreadsheet so we could track our progress.) It will be fun to see if we keep this up.

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My niece Madison, left, won the daily walking challenge by passing the 30,000 step mark. Mason, right, won the treadmill challenge. But we’ll see if he can defend his title next week!

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A cross-training plan for January

Inspired by a lingering case of plantar fasciitis and  the legions of FitBit evangelists who’ve emerged during the holidays, my plan for January is temporarily switching from a running-based fitness plan to one that emphasizes four mini workouts per day.

Even during my most grueling marathon training, I’ve often been struck by how sedentary I can be when I’m not running. Another problem is that I rarely stick with yoga or strength-building workouts, so while my legs are strong my upper body is neglected. My hope is that while recovering from this injury I’ll build up a routine where it feels natural and energy-inducing to add some focused movement throughout the day. And if at least one of those workouts gets me pretty sweaty, or happens to run longer than 15 minutes, that works for me.

Here are some options I want to try:

The treadmill challenge:  Last week the Y had a contest to see what distance could be achieved in 15 minutes on a treadmill at the maximum 15% incline. The winner, a kid my son’s age, got 1.20 miles. My first attempt, walking 4 mph with a couple of 4.6 mph minutes, got me to 1.03. I went back and walked 4.5 mph with four 5.5 mph minutes, but ran out of gas before I got to the fifth 5.5 mph minute that would’ve pushed me into the lead. I feel like I can either come up with a better recipe or learn to push through it. But one way or another, I’m going to keep trying to beat that mark on my own, because that’s one heck of a calorie burn.

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Rowan inspired all of us by working out every single day she was home for the holidays. 

Rowan’s 6-minute yoga abs workout: I got this off my oldest daughter’s Pinterest page. With only two sets of four poses, this  seems like something simple enough I could memorize:

  1. 30-second high plank
  2. 30 second boat
  3. Warrior three (30 seconds each leg)
  4. Side plank (30 seconds each side)

Though I can’t necessarily hold each pose for 30 seconds each right now, I’m going to work at it. After getting used to having Rowan around last week, maybe doing this workout will help me miss her less after we take her to the airport today.

Body weight circuit workout: This workout I got from Nerd fitness feels like a good fit in that I prefer workouts, like recipes, to be simple enough that I can memorize them. This one calls for two sets of the following:

  • 20 squats.
  • 10 push ups.
  • 20 walking lunges.
  • 10 dumbbell rows (each arm)
  • 15 second plank.
  • 30 Jumping Jacks.

Because I hate jumping jacks, I prefer doing those first to get them out of the way. (Customizing a workout also helps make it feel less like “somebody else’s bad idea.”)

Cycling intervals: The Tabata Takedown calls for a 20-second stationary bike “sprint” followed by 10 seconds recovery times 10, with 3 to 5 minutes easy pedaling before doing two more sets. If I have time, I’ll do the full workout with a few minutes warmup and cooldown. But if I really only have 15 minutes, then I could do a 5 minute warmup, one set of intervals, and a 5-minute cooldown.

 

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Bonny Damocles

An easier version of Bonny’s stair-climbing sessions: Bonny Damocles has kept his diabetes at bay without drugs for 25 years by climbing stairs four times a day. (He used to run them, then switched to 15-minute walking sessions because it was safer while still getting his heart rate up.) I’ve had a hard time motivating myself to climb stairs multiple times a day, but walking on the treadmill at an incline can apparently provide the same benefit. (For me, this type of treadmill incline will differ from the “treadmill challenge” described above because I’ll walk at an easier pace.)

I’ll also do some light jogging, but probably not more than a couple of times a week as I allow my foot to heal. It will be interesting to see whether any of these workouts become a part of my regular routine after I go back to running on a regular basis. If so, maybe dealing with this injury will have been a plus in the long run.

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Holiday food log: Aiming higher at Christmas

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The treat bar at my parents’ house on Christmas day.

Do I eat any better on Christmas Day now than I did when I was fat?

For probably the first three Christmases after my 90-pound weight loss in 2010, I was still obsessing over Weight Watchers points, and so any kind of big family gathering put me on edge, afraid I’d mess up.

The last two or three Christmases, I’ve let myself enjoy the holiday, knowing I would be more disciplined in the days before and after to make up for it.

Still, it bugs me to get too much out of control. This year that happened at some points on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Which led me to wonder: Have I learned anything about how to savor holiday feasting without letting things get too ugly?

Framing the day that way made me feel better. Yes, I ate WAY too much. But even when I’m overdoing it, things aren’t as horrific as they were before. Some examples:

*I started the day off with a gingerbread man and it was so good I immediately wanted another. I refrained. It wasn’t the end of my sugar consumption that day, but it felt better to reflect on the cuteness and tastiness of that single gingerbread man than to try to make the moment last forever by continuing to eat until I finished off his comrades.

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The Gingerbread men and the Nutter Butter Santas.

*After allowing myself to nibble on whatever looked good throughout the morning – primarily fresh fruit and breakfast casserole, but yes, there was a buckeye, a molasses cookie and a Christmas cookie in there as well – I meditated on creating some interior “white space” in which I focused on feeling calm, complete and grateful. Not eating anything during this period of a few hours helped contribute to that feeling.

*The traditional Christmas feast at my parents’ house is a late afternoon breakfast. My Mom fries potatoes and my brothers fry dozens of eggs. There’s also ham, toast, frozen fruit and my homemade cinnamon rolls. I used to have a lot of trouble controlling myself at this meal. But I’ve eaten it enough times over the years to be satisfied with two eggs, ham, toast, and fruit. I don’t eat fried potatoes anymore and I don’t need to sample my own cinnamon rolls every time I make them. They’re hardly a delicacy since I can make them anytime I want.

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My brothers, Brian and Brent, at their traditional egg frying post. 

*I was disappointed in myself for plunging into the spicy chicken dip later in the evening after we’d opened gifts, but only because I forgot to scout out some raw veggies to use for dipping. Once somebody set out a bunch of celery sticks, I was much happier to leave the chips alone. 

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Passing out gifts. My niece Monroe climbed up on a chair to reach the top of the gift stack beside the piano. That’s me in front of the tree. 

*Even though I definitely overdid it at my parents’ house, I was pleased to realize afterward that I only had one sugary treat: Another gingerbread man. In my fat days, I would’ve picked something off the treat bar every time I walked past.

Now, all of the above being said, I’ve got A LOT to work on before next year.

For starters, I’d like to be a few pounds lighter so that I feel like I’m truly at my best and not just “better than I used to be.”  Wouldn’t it be nice to focus on feeling great for Christmas rather than focusing on all the goodies I want to eat?

I don’t want to deprive myself. Food is not the enemy. But if I could learn to appreciate great food without plunging into gluttony, that would be an incredible gift to myself.

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Speaking of looking and feeling great at Christmas, check out our oldest daughter, Rowan, right, who’s dropped 50 pounds in the past few months since moving to Charleston, S.C. It is awesome to have her home for a whole week! (That’s our daughter Cassie at left, also adoring their cousin Kyla.)

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Holiday Food Log 28-29: the pre-celebration fast

One problem with single-day diet challenges is that the next morning I have an urge to overcompensate. That’s what happened after Tuesday’s “cycling diet” video game, when I had THREE Christmas cookies PLUS a Pop Tart. By 10 a.m., when I’d already been up for 8 hours and consumed a zillion calories, I decided it was time to initiate a pre-Holiday fast.

The conditions really were perfect: Not only was I sick of eating, but there was no need to worry about running fuel as I’m recovering from an injury this week. Plus, there’s something almost mystically calming about a fast, if you can get in the right frame of mind for it. That suddenly seemed like an opportunity to not be missed during the hectic holiday season.

siddharthaRecently I read a post that referenced Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, commenting on the liberating aspects of “knowing how to fast.” Not having read the book, I’m not entirely sure what his approach was.  What I do know, based on my own rather limited experience, is that it helps to disconnect your interior alarm system. If you don’t, your mind and body are going to constantly be fretting about whether you’re doing an incredibly stupid thing.

Having undertaken a five-day fast earlier this year – zero calories other than a daily teaspoon of coconut oil – without any real problems, I now know it can be done. I know it feels calming at some points and disorientingly weird at others. Hunger pangs seem much more distant and removed from the “hunger” I only think I experience in everyday life. 

I fasted from 10 a.m. Wednesday until around 5 a.m. this morning. I felt pretty good for the most part, though I didn’t exercise much – just a short circuit weight workout Wednesday and a short cycling workout on Thursday. I would’ve liked to continue through Saturday, thinking it would feel truly magical to break my fast with Christmas Eve dinner.

But knowing how much I need to get done today, I decided it would be better to have some fuel on board. Christmas always feels pretty magical anyway, no matter how old I get. Here’s hoping yours is, too.

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Holiday food log #27: The diet/exercise ‘video game’

I love one-day diet/fitness challenges. Yesterday, knowing I had a cycling workout in mind, I decided to follow a diet modeled on one a cyclist-blogger friend has written about using when he’s trying to drop a few pounds.

If I remember correctly, at some point in the past Fit Recovery talked about eating an apple and a banana for breakfast, a protein bar for lunch, and a sensible dinner. (Naturally, I can’t seem to locate that specific post now.) Because I’m typically hungrier in the morning than the evening, I switched that up a bit and had a protein bar for breakfast, a “sensible lunch”, and an apple and banana for dinner.

Now, for me to make this work, I’ve got to pretend I’m playing a game. Usually I pretend I’m playing against an online character based on a real person. When I do a one-day Atkins diet, for instance, I’m not just eating low-carb – I’m competing against some 1990s version of my sister, who before she had a peanut allergy relied on 1-2 chocolate-peanut butter Atkins bars a day to help her stick to that diet during a time when she was at her lowest weight as an adult. I’m not trying to beat her, per se, but I’m trying to do as well as I think she did in my mind – if that makes any sense.

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If Stephen King described Sifkitz’s diet in “Stationary Bike,” I would’ve loved to pair that with a cycling workout. But all I know there is that he eats two oatmeal cookies while he rides…

Yesterday I wound up with 1,210 calories following something like FitRecovery’s diet. My sensible lunch was a footlong grilled chicken sub with no cheese, just mustard and veggies. That’s a lot of satisfaction for 650 calories! Note for next time: I could’ve come in at just over 1,000 calories if I hadn’t added peanut butter to my banana at dinner

The cycling workout I did was based on the “Tabata takedown,” which I got from Men’s Fitness. I forgot the printout in the car that had the actual workout on it, and I don’t have a smartphone, so I did it from memory … which means I messed it up a bit.

Basically, I just rode in easy warmup mode while reading this cool article on a master craftsman frame builder in Bicycling magazine, then did 10 seconds full sprint followed by 20 seconds recovery x 10. I pedaled easy for 3 minutes then repeated that set two more times.

Later, I discovered I should’ve “sprinted” for 20 seconds with only 10 seconds recovery. So between that and the peanut butter I guess I would’ve been penalized if this were a real video game. But the upside is that I still took in only 1,200 calories and rode 8 miles, some of it as hard as I could go. No heel pain during that workout, either. I should get bonus points for that!  

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Holiday food log 25-26: 2 valuable lessons

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I keep wondering if this holiday food log is a frivolous waste of both my time and yours. This is a busy time, right? Yet learning how to eat during the holidays in a way that feels enjoyable without losing self control would be a HUGE advance in reducing dietary stress. If anyone else can glean any ideas from my struggles, all the better.

The last couple of days have been technical failures. But both yielded important lessons that will be a huge help for next year. One is the perfect game plan for surviving my single most challenging holiday party, while the other is a simple discipline-building and calorie-burning strategy for recovery days during the celebration schedule.

Because the party strategy is more complicated, I’ll lead with the simple diet/exercise plan I’ve borrowed from Bonny Damocles, who’s honed his method in 25 years of successfully managing type 2 diabetes without the use of drugs. He only carries around 137 pounds on his 5-7 frame, so you know it’s good for calorie burning as well as blood sugar control. (And at age 80, he can hardly be accused of having a teenager’s high metabolism.)

Bonny’s simple diet/exercise plan:  Bonny eats two filling meals per day and typically exercises in four blocks of 15 minutes. His primary exercise is walking up the stairs in his home, (walking down backward to reduce knee stress). His meals are typically a modest amount of lean protein, up to half a cup of unsalted nuts, a few prunes for digestive purposes, a scoop of plain Greek yogurt, a cheese or peanut butter sandwich, and as much fruit and veggies as he wants.

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Bonny Damocles

Bonny’s plan seemed perfect for a week in which I need to give my plantar fasciitis time to heal, especially since I’m coming off a weekend of overeating. Unfortunately I didn’t have a good understanding of the nature of my injury. Turns out it’s not so much just avoiding putting weight on my painful heel; apparently I need to be stretching and icing the inflamed ligament that connects my heel to my toes. So even though I wasn’t even even stepping on my heel on the stairs, by the third session I was in serious pain. It wasn’t until then that I did some reading on the injury, but it was too late: In my discouragement I ate a couple of Christmas cookies. Sugar is a definite no-no in Bonny’s diet, and so is eating anything outside the two large but planned meals.

I am going to try this again soon because I found my two “Bonny meals” pretty satisfying and the stair walking seems doable if I’d realized what was going on with my sore foot.

For the record, here’s what I had for my two meals:

  1. Five prunes, half a cup of walnuts, canned salmon, two kiwi and two small apples, and peanut butter on a homemade whole wheat bun.
  2. Half a cup of cashews/walnuts, a 12-on pkg of thawed frozen berries topped with 1/3 cup uncooked rolled oats, a 100-calorie whipped Greek yogurt (didn’t have any plain on hand), cheese on a homemade whole wheat bun and a plain turkey burger.

See what I mean? Those are giant meals, and you get to eat nuts.

The Decker Christmas game plan: This family gathering scores off the charts in terms of calories per square inch. Yet I think I’ve almost got it figured out. The key is that Aunt Ellen, who hosts this bash in her old-fashioned farmhouse, always has lots of elegant fruit and veggie platters on her appetizer table. Both are “freebies” on the Weight Watchers Points Plus system, so that’s obviously what I should be counting the day of this party.

On Sunday I played this perfectly before making a bone-headed mistake toward the end of the game. That won’t happen next year.

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One of Aunt Ellen’s fruit platters from a past Decker Christmas. 

Earlier in the day I had sufficiently fueled up on filling foods that used up only 12 of my allotted 29 points: two banana “hot dogs” (with 35-calorie slices of Healthy Goodness bread as “buns”), a 12-on pkg of frozen cauliflower (only 100 calories),  a tuna sandwich with mustard (200 calories), and shortly before time to go, four boiled egg whites on two slices of bread (protein plus fiber for 139 calories).

During the grazing period, I consumed only fresh fruit, veggies and dainty cucumber slices topped with more veggies in just a dot of cream cheese.

During dinner, I ate only salad and a generous portion of Ellen’s old-fashioned bone-in ham that she cooks until it’s so tender it just falls off the bone.

That brings me to dessert. I had plenty of room left, points-wise. If only I’d remembered to use the infinite pie slice method, this would have been a stunning victory in terms of eating a lot of really filling and pretty food without going over.

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My infinite pie slice from the 2012 Decker Christmas included tiny pieces of brownie, coconut torte, strawberry pretzel dessert, a molasses cookie and a small star cookie.

Instead, I made the mistake of telling my dad (who for decades has served as my immediate family’s dietary referee, calling fouls much too liberally, in my opinion) I was only going to choose one thing. And then I picked a raspberry fudgy thing that was absolutely delicious but only about the size of half a domino.

If I’d went with the infinite pie slice, and filled the space a piece of pie would’ve taken up with an assortment of goodies, I would’ve been perfectly satisfied and probably come in on budget, or been close.

Instead, I kept grazing later in the evening, and wound up eating 2-3 cookies, some peanut butter bread  and more of the raspberry fudgy things, which probably packed more calories per square inch than anything else on the dessert table. (Using the infinite pie slice method, I would’ve limited myself to only one of those and balanced it out with less calorie-dense options.)

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Holiday food log 23-24: Race day munchies

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Boy, were we relieved to be done with this race! The snowy woods was beautiful but exhausting, especially with all those hills.  

You know a trail race is gonna be tough when your car has trouble making it there on icy roads. We finally arrived at the HUFF about half an hour before the start, but had to trek half a mile through the snow to pick up our packets. I was in the portajohn when I heard Race Director Mitch Harper give the countdown to start the race.

My sister Traci and I had signed up for 10-mile “fun run” instead of the 50K this time, and we were really glad we did, because wading through several inches of snow – often uphill – was exhausting, not to mention disorienting.

“This feels like trying to run while you’re drunk!” Traci shouted. Everyone around us agreed, including the large doe that scrambled out of the bushes and staggered across the trail right in front of us.

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I almost didn’t get a “baked potato blanket” at the finish, then went back after I started shivering. In our wet clothes, we couldn’t get warm the entire ride home. Definitely should’ve changed after the race!

This race was particularly tough on my sore heel, which felt like it had embedded glass inside. I suspect it’s plantar fasciitis. Now that we’re past the HUFF, I’ll likely take the next week or so off from running. But after the way I ate yesterday, I’ve got to come up with an alternative exercise plan.

Given all the calories we burned trudging through that snow, my plan was to aim for a calorie deficit. And I think I might have stayed on that track if we’d gone past the aid station with the homemade turtles. I was really looking forward to that – there’s nothing like eating gourmet chocolate in the middle of a winter trail race – but our 10-mile course took us a different way. Exhausted and limping around on my sore heel the rest of the day, I kept reaching for something that might taste as good as that fabled turtle. Here’s the damage report:

PBJ with a banana around 4 a.m.

Protein bar as we arrived at the race.

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“This race was like trying to run up 10 miles of sand dunes!” was my sister’s assessment. So true.  

Gatorade and a handful of peanut M&Ms during the race.

Black bean soup, a small homemade cookie and a cup of craft beer in the runner’s tent afterward.

Starbuck’s oatmeal cookie and a black coffee on the ride home.

The day could still have been salvaged at this point, because Traci and I avoided a stop for Heyerly’s donuts, primarily because we didn’t feel like crawling out of the car unnecessarily.  But once I got home, mindless munching commenced:

A big bowl of bran flakes with banana

Two homemade molasses cookies.

Two Christmas cookies.

Two or three pieces of garlic cheese.

For dinner I had a turkey cheeseburger on a homemade wheat roll with homemade vegetable soup and two MGD low-carb beers.

Later in the evening I had microwave popcorn, and then, later still, I had the misfortune to notice that Ben and Colleen had brought some homemade Christmas chocolate back from Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Finally, after about a zillion calories, I had my turtle. (Two of them, actually.)

Friday’s pre-race menu:

Thanks to two unscheduled Christmas cookies – at 250 calories each – I found myself at 1,550 calories after lunch. My plan was to have a big plate of broccoli and two boiled eggs for dinner, but I succumbed to the pasta I’d made for everyone else. I didn’t feel too bad about going over my calorie total with a grueling race scheduled for the next day, but now after back-to-back overeating days, I’m gonna have to be really careful at today’s Christmas party on my mom’s side of the family.  

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Holiday food log #21-22: ‘The Gingerbread Girl’ diet

For a while now I’d been wanting to try eating like this character in a Stephen King story called “The Gingerbread Girl.”

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This is the audiobook cover. The novella, which originally appeared in Esquire, is most easily found in a short story collection called Just After Sunset. Another story in there I like a lot is “Stationary Bike,” which is another diet and exercise horror story.  

In the story she’s literally running away from unhappiness, fleeing to Florida and doing a lot of compulsive beach jogging. This being a Stephen King story, she also must outrun a psycho killer. But before that happens, we find out what she eats in a typical day: black coffee and orange juice for breakfast, a green salad for lunch and Stouffer’s mac n’ cheese for dinner.

Though the story itself creeps me out, I liked the image of the lean sad beach runner. I was under no delusions that mimicking the diet of a fictional character for a day would give me her equally fictional physique, but hey – when it comes to food, I’m easily amused.

The problem was, I couldn’t see going for a late morning run on just coffee and orange juice, especially since my sister and I were going to be tromping through cold and snow on a State Park trail. So I rearranged her meal plan to fit my purposes: I had the mac and cheese for breakfast to fuel my run, then had a cup of orange juice as a recovery drink. The salad made an early dinner.

I allowed myself 1500 calories within this menu template, which is a good thing because the mac and cheese got me off to an 875-calorie start. (I used a 19-ounce container of Hormel’s I got on sale for a buck at this Amish grocery store I like. That sounds like a lot, and it was 2 ½ cups/servings. But that’s about the size of a generous bowl of cereal. Very doable in my book, though King probably envisioned the Gingerbread Girl eating about half that much.)

Another 100 for a cup of OJ put me at 975. With the 525 calories I had left for dinner, I made sure to include plenty of protein: 3 boiled eggs (210 cal) and a 3-oz can of tuna (120). I used a low cal vinaigrette (30 cal per 2T). So I actually came in a bit under what I’d budgeted, at around 1350 calories (assuming I went heavy on the vinaigrette).

So, was this an eating experience worth repeating? Maybe. It was fun to pig out on mac n’ cheese, which I hardly ever eat. I also rarely drink OJ, so that was a treat. And I like knowing this meal plan gives me an automatic calorie deficit if I do any kind of run or workout.

Probably the biggest thing, though, is that I feel like I have a better chance of sticking to this one-day diet because in a way it’s a role-playing game: It’s not me eating that mac ‘n cheese, it’s the Gingerbread Girl.

Day 22: The Potato diet.

I thought it made sense to follow up a day of following a regimen with a day where I could eat as much as I wanted, provided I only ate potatoes. I also thought the carb load would be helpful, coming two days before tomorrow’s HUFF 10 mile trail race. I wavered a bit in the morning, when I was really craving peanut butter, but decided to follow through and I’m glad I did. Despite eating 15 red potatoes (though most were on the small side) AND an entire stick of butter, I didn’t weigh any more when I stepped on the scale this morning.

Which is kind of surprising considering I didn’t get in a run, only a short circuit workout. Looks like my holiday run streak really is over. I’m having trouble with heel pain, possibly plantar fasciitis, and I want to give my foot a break in hopes of completing Saturday’s race.

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Holiday food log #19-20: Salvaging a day that seemed doomed

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This stuff is so creamy and decadent, I can’t keep myself from eating all 8 ounces – and on Tuesday I had TWO! Guess it’s better than keeping Ben and Jerry’s in the house, but now I only buy it when it’s a super good deal. 

How do you salvage a day when you’ve already had 1,000-plus calories before 9 a.m.?

This holiday food log has really clarified something I already suspected: Tuesdays are a problem.  I typically have a really light dinner on Mondays, following a specific meal script, and then the next morning I want to EAT. Yesterday I had my version of “cherry cheesecake” – a 290-calorie container of that high-fat tart cherry Noosa Aussie yogurt with 2T of ground flax seed – followed by two slices of leftover thin crust Pizza Hut cheese pizza, followed by another “cherry cheesecake.”

It was 8:30 a.m., and I was already at 1,080 calories!

Having noted my Tuesday fail problem, however, I was determined not to let it happen again. Noting that I still had room for one of my favorite prerun snacks – PBJ with banana on two slices of Healthy Goodness bread (320 calories would take me to 1400) – I resolved to save that for an hour before my 2 p.m. run.

Mission accomplished. Unfortunately, I added a bonus banana wrapped in a second slice of bread for an additional 135 calories, taking me to 1535. A problem, given that I was shooting for a 1600ish total on a day that included a 4-mile run.

The solution: Dinner was a 12-oz, 120-calorie bag of microwaved frozen chopped broccoli.

broccoli

This bag contains 200 percent of a day’s worth of Vitamin C. 

I used to feel funny about eating an entire bag of veggies all by myself. But hey, it’s filling, gives me four veggie servings all at once, and it typically costs only a buck. On a day that looked like I was headed for another bender, it was just what I needed.

Monday’s food log: Half a cup of almonds for breakfast, grilled chicken salad with two glasses of red wine for a Mexican restaurant lunch, and 4 oz of cheese, a few carrot sticks and an apple for dinner.

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