Monday, November 14, 2005

Less a Feast Than a Bucket Brigade of Nutrients

I SPENT LAST NIGHT after dinner cooking lunch and dinner. Chunks of spiced pork roasted fragrantly in my George Foreman Grill. Brown rice steamed on the stove. I portioned cottage cheese and plain yogurt among eight single-serve plastic cups and tossed the original containers. Into two of my many plastic pint cups, scavenged from untold heart-clogging side orders of egg drop soup, I sifted protein powder and ground steel-cut oats . . . these last from a four-pound tub of oats had bought earlier that day from the loose-grains aisle at Whole Foods and pulverized in a coffee grinder for quick absorption when I blend them — raw — into a protein shake. . . .

Why the sudden burst of food-oriented organization? I am making a sincere effort to combine gym attendance and meal distribution to grow muscle and drop fat. For the past 2 weeks, I have brought oatmeal, salads, whole wheat/rye crackers, natural peanut butter, and tuna to work. I have distributed the three large meals I ordinarily eat into five or so smaller meals. This weekend, I researched the proper amount of fat, carbohydrates, and protein I should eat to reduce stored fat and encourage muscle growth in conjunction with regular weightlifting. My previous workouts were not followed up with food in the right combinations of macronutrients (i.e., the three divisions just mentioned, along with vitamins and minerals and water), and I did too much cardiovascular exercise for someone trying to retain muscle.

I have a program downloaded from the forums at to ease into the correct way to build muscle. I had viewed this site a year ago, and was using another beginner workout to distribute lifting weights across different days and body regions (doing splits) to avoid working the same muscles twice in a row. My efforts were subverted by getting discouraged, poor nutrition, and lousy sleep schedules.

So today I've kicked things off on the right foot by eating an Egg Beaters omelet and some whole wheat cereal, along with a ton of water. I was a little nervous about the Egg Beaters. Serious weightlifters consume enormous quantities of egg whites, sometimes raw. I had never eaten Egg Beaters, and I was hoping they wouldn't resemble the jars of egg whites I had seen on the shelf at Whole Foods . . . unappetizing to say the least. I am also not a big fan of the texture of egg whites, which has steered me away from hardboiled eggs and the whites of fried eggs in the past. Fortunately, the Egg Beaters were an inviting, creamy yellow, and they tasted like a blend of maybe one yolk with two or three whites. So far it's stayed down, so I think we've got a winner.

I bought a cooler so I could tote prepared cooked meat into the city, along with dairy like cottage cheese and all manner of leafy green vegetables. The idea here is to avoid running across the street to Chelsea Market to raid the bakeries there, or to follow folks carrying leftover sandwiches or pastries after catered meetings and feed like a lion on grease and starch. And of course, the holidays are coming, with junk food offerings on the home front and at work in the form of thank-you baskets from our vendors. Winter or no, I don't need to gorge like a pre-hibernation bear.

So I am off now to the gym to get this started. If I type with a limp in the next day or so, you know why.

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