Random collection of thoughts, because I feel like going back to my roots. Which is different than feeling Roots-y, because ONLY Levar Burton can feel Roots-y, and I’m not Levar Burton.

1. Yesterday for dinner, I had a Beer, a Burrito (Mahi Mahi inside that did NOT taste like Mahi Mahi), and a Banana. Got me thinking about foods that start with B. So, of course:

Top 5 “B” Foods:
5. Bacon
4. Beer: yes, it’s a food. Monks used to live on the stuff.
3. Bananas: yes, I like bananas more than I like beer.
2. Bob’s Donuts: starts with a B, just like Brown Rice – it’s a specific type of donut, i.e, the BEST type.
1. Burritos: take a bunch of other foods, no matter what you like, wrap it in a flour tortilla, and guess what you have? A burrito. It’s a tasty food envelope. If I knew what the level of taxonomy above “species” was, that’s what I would call a burrito. No matter its DNA or its geographic anomalies, its nature-or-nurture leanings, it will always be a burrito. Falafel = Mideastern burrito. Sandwich = rich white man’s burrito. Burger = rich white Texan burrito. Bowl of soup = the burrito for the guy who’s allergic to gluten or has a bad case of lockjaw from eating too many real burritos. My opinion, the Catholic church should add the Burrito to the Holy Trinity. Replace “spiritus sancti” with “burritas tasti”. Then those little Jesus wafers they give out at Mass could get much tastier & more satisfying. If it weren’t for the utter devastation this would cause to the world’s Sunday lunch/brunch business, I would write a letter to the Pope. But I’ll refrain; least I can do to help out this economy.

2) The wyf takes the GMAT on Monday. She’s nervous. Hates standardized tests. Plans to spend whole weekend studying (except of course for the hair appointment that just had to be this morning… slacker). Send her your love/support/favorite burrito recipe.

3) Saw ‘Tropic Thunder’ last night – left R at home to study; she didn’t want to see it anyway. Wish I hadn’t gone alone though, because, while funny, I felt like it was the kind of funny that you need a friend next to you, also laughing guiltily.. you know, like Robert Downey Jr. gets all into the guttural black voice and you chuckle a little, catch yourself, then look over to your companion to make sure they’re laughing too, and they’re doing the exact same maneuver at the exact same time (synchronized insecurity), and then you both fall for the illusion of self-imposed guilt. (“Oh, good, they laughed too, I must just be manufacturing that guilt-due-to-racist-humor feeling… whew. I want popcorn.”) So my review is still to come (CLIQUEPICK IT!), but if you’re contemplating it, my advice is to take your husband/wife/friend/favorite burrito recipe.

4) Found my motivation this morning. Got up, ran 2.5 miles to the gym, worked out for an hour… Back on the 5 Factor train, so I was pooped after doing two days’ worth of reps in one session. So I took the bus home. But on the plus side, there were only like five other people on my floor of the gym at 8am on a Saturday, so this will probably become a regular feature event.

5) I only have four random thoughts at any one time, so I’ll just recall one of the earlier ones: I’m still not Levar Burton.

Puttin’ It Out There

Enough already with the waffling between fitness programs & nutritional vigilance. Here’s my frikkin’ FitDay journal.

You see me putting half a cheese pizza in there, or eating Slow Churned three or four times a day, call me on it. You see me NOT putting in my activities (either too lazy to input them or too lazy to even do them), then call me on it. Finally, if you have questions or want help doing this type of thing for yourself, ask. Happy to help. FitDay helped me get realistic about caloric intake and food composition, and then I was really able to change the way I thought about food.

It did more than just teach me what’s worse for me; I had a pretty good idea of what was bad & what was worse & what would ensure I’d hate myself for in the morning. What it did was show me that a handful of almonds is a decent snack but increase it to two or three handfuls, and, healthy fats aside, I might as well have eaten half a bag of Oreos. If you’re going to eat a lot of something, even a “healthier” something, it can still put a dent in your allowance. In order to eat more than a cup of something at one time is fat-free yogurt or cheese, some fruits, most vegetables, and popcorn with non-fat seasoning. Bet you didn’t know that. F you if you did, cuz you didn’t tell me before I got fat.

It also helps you keep tally on those little snacks, and on drinks/sodas/juices. A Pepsi & a small bag of pretzels is still a 425 calorie snack – 20% of what your intake should be. But spread those out, meaning a Pepsi in the morning and pretzels in the afternoon, and you probably wouldn’t even register them as things that you ate that day. That shit adds up!

But one of the most powerful things that I think this helps you to see is the TYPES of foods you’re eating when you think you’re doing yourself a favor by skipping meals. I was under the assumption that, if I just snack most of the morning and most of the afternoon, I would probably come out to about the same as if I had eaten a big cheeseburger and a small salad at Ruby Tuesday’s. Not even close to true; see the above pretzels & Pepsi example. Even a shitty Big Mac is only about a thousand calories; if you instead ate three bags of pretzels & had two Pepsis, you’re already at about 800 calories. Sure, you haven’t eaten a fat-encrusted unnatural “meat substance” dipped in “CHEESE” and special sauce, but you have consumed roughly the same amount of calories – and it was basically all sugar.

Carbohydrates are not evil, but if you’re skipping lunch because you’re too busy WORKING or just aren’t hungry, you’re not burning off whatever calories you’re taking in, and carbohydrates are short-term energy sources, but the body treats them all pretty much the same – they are quickly converted to fat, the body’s long-term storage unit, if they aren’t needed immediately. That is, if you’re not moving around and burning the 800 calories worth of pretzels & Pepsi, the sugar converts into fat because the body doesn’t need the calories yet. It’ll break down the fat when it has to, but until then it will insulate your body in case the food stops coming completely.

But you know what’s more easily broken down than fat? Protein. Also known as muscle. So you haven’t eaten a “fatty” lunch, but you’ve snacked and stayed sedentary. When you do finally run up the stairs because you’re late for a meeting or try to make it in the doors of the FedEx Kinko’s before the cute girl leaves for the day, your body will burn muscle because it’s already stored the carbs as fat, and muscle is more readily available than fat (assuming you’re not already in great shape in terms of metabolic efficiency.)

Have you done yourself a favor by skipping meals? HELL NO. Your body burns muscle instead of sugar or carbs when you finally do get active. You did eat 20% less calories, but you’ve basically just made them part of your spare tire collection & received no nutritional benefit whatsoever. (At least the “meat substance” would’ve had a solid 15 grams of protein to help protect/create muscle fibers.) And guess what? Know how you feel run-down and queasy because you didn’t eat lunch & just snacked? Yeah, that’s your body’s response to your blood sugar going through more peaks and valleys than Rosie O’Donnell, and it isn’t following the same natural wave it normally follows throughout the day. So what’s your body doing? It’s taking blood away from your head, pulling it into your stomach, and using the extra oxygen and heat to convert whatever sugar is in your system into fat for long-term storage, because you’re freaking it out and it’s going into scarcity mode.

Do this 80 times a year (every fourth or fifth day) without giving your body the nutrients it needs, you’ll put on 20 pounds, your libido will suffer, you won’t sleep as well, and you probably have skin problems. All because you thought having pretzels & soda instead of a Big Mac HAD to be better for you.

In general, this is still true – but only to a point. FitDay helps you find that point. That’s all I’m saying. In this huge rant, that’s all I’m trying to say. And I wish like hell I could find/be blessed with the business savvy to take their little model and blow it into a full-fledged Bob Green-endorsed accessory to 5-Factor Fitness.

Get out of The Regal Beagle

I FINALLY got back on the horse of a morning workout after six days of not going to the gym, not even running hills – I was basically keeping calories around like they’re my friends. Totally fine to do, every once in a while, especially if you’re body’s telling you to take it easy. Mine wasn’t so much saying “Take it easy” as it was saying “Stay in bed and you won’t regret it.” Six days later, I regret it a little bit.

While out on my little jaunt this morning (ran from here down to the PoFA along Marina Green, then up the Lyon Street stairs & back over here on Pacific), I came upon an interestingly dressed person. He was wearing one of those rough velvet shirts in the color of butternut squash (or squtternutbosh) and matching denim jeans. (Meaning the denim shared the vegetarian hue.) And the guy had a paunch that looked like he had strapped half of a hollowed out watermelon around his midsection.

As I passed him on the street, given the mode of fashion & physical stature, I couldn’t help but joke (did I mention I’m funny) to myself: “Boy, Jack Tripper‘s really spending too much time at the Regal Beagle and not enough time clumsily riding his bike along the Venice Beach promenade. “

Aside from being, in my opinion, a hilarious callback, it also kinda proves out (not that I need the proof) that choosing NOT to be active, NOT to be out of bed before the sun is if that’s the only time I can get into the gym, is like simultaneously choosing to look like I’ve got Jell-O poured down my shirt. R & I have been making that choice a little too often lately, especially after I had a SOLID YEAR of at least 4 days a week of running or gymming or both.

So we’ve come up with an action plan: because it costs $96/month for our two memberships to Crunch, that’s roughly $2/viable gym day/person. So for every WEEKDAY between now and some deadline yet to be firmed up, whenever one of us chooses not to go to the gym, they put $2 in a jar. If you go to the gym, do a yoga class, or go for a decent-length run (at least 30 minutes outside with hills), your money stays in your pocket. If you get hyper about it & hit two sessions of respectable physical activity, then you actually get to take two dollars OUT of the jar.

Then, whence the deadline be upon us, we will run a 5K together (or just an over-and-back run on the GGB) and try to set a previously-determined PR. The person who meets or beats their goal gets to spend the money in the jar, preferably on something completely selfish, irrational & with a high boasting quotient.

Not a bad idea, no? I realize that this is not the world’s most perfect incentive program, so we’re open to suggestions on how to make it more painful to lose or more rewarding to win, or even to make it better at inducing us to get off our a$$es. Let us know if you have thoughts.

This gets me thinking about the 5-Factor Fitness thing I started in, um, March? It REALLY helped me get from feeling good to feeling great in like 3 months, and now I’ve slipped out of it a bit. Check it out online (I hate that it’s being marketed as the DIET, because it’s more than a fucking diet), but I’ll write more about it at another time. For now it’s time to get out & enjoy the afternoon. Love Saturdays.