Sunday, September 21, 2008

Nutritional Bankruptcy

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN HAPPY to report failure? Surprisingly, I am. Last week, I failed to stick to the usual eating plan, and didn't track my eating accurately each day. What makes me happy is that this was only the first time I did so in 2 months and 3 weeks on the 30x40 weight loss quest. Even with my hit-and-miss dinner choices during some weeks, this is one of the most consistent attempts to establish a positive habit I've ever undertaken, and I am very pleased with the effort and the results. Plus my failure highlights the vulnerabilities of this plan, which will help me anticipate and avoid them. So even this misstep can be useful. And I'd be more nervous than anything else if I hadn't had at least one bust of a week.

Travel triggered my failure. I spent Monday and Tuesday in Central City, contending with chain-restaurant food, office-cafeteria grub, and gluey nutrition bars, with no gym access. Due to a late-Tuesday return, I had little time to buy decent food (especially vegetables) before Wednesday's workday began, so that day's nutrition was haphazard. Through Saturday, I did record my consumption on paper while at work, and I resumed gym visits Thursday morning, to my great relief (and soreness Friday morning). But my rhythm was thrown off. Most of my meals were in fact "on program," featuring the usual whole grains, proteins, nuts, and smoothie-makin's I eat or drink each day. Dinner choices, though, were poor, including a trip to a Chinese restaurant one night, which I try to restrict to weekends, and rarely at that. I supplemented during the remaining weekdays with protein bars, which I've come to believe are terrible, last-ditch replacements for real food.

So in sum, I declared nutritional bankruptcy last week and decided to soldier through the weekend as best I could, with this week as a chance to pick up where I left off. I weigh 223 lbs. today, not terrible, but a few pounds over where I had been last Sunday. The week proceeding that Sunday was great; I dropped fat on a clean diet and got stronger, particularly in my squat form and capacity. I knew 2 days of travel would disrupt this, so I tried to charge into it with fitness to spare. Gaining fat back to 223 during that trip and its aftermath is therefore not an immovable barrier to progress.

But I have to travel yet again this week, this time to, oh, let's call it River City. This hotel appears to have a partnership with a local gym, so I may be able to lift more often than I could during my two Central City trips. I would be overjoyed to find a squat rack with an Olympic bar to keep that up over my 4 days in the area. But I will be happy with some dumbbells and a couple of weight machines that were manufactured sometime after the release of Pumping Iron. The real challenge will be to find decent food while out there. Once past this week, I should be looking at a free and clear October — and autumn — in which to make the next big push toward the goal.

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