FAQ #2: Do you eat healthy all the time?

Do I eat healthy all the time?  Let’s review my menu over the past few days, shall we?

  • Monday – Protein shake with soy milk, Vietnamese-stye chicken wrap from TJ’s, shrimp pasta spaghettini, chocolate lava cake
  • Tuesday – Protein shake with soy milk, won ton noodle soup, almonds and beef jerky, raw foods meal replacement bar, protein shake, recovery drink (during my workout), homemade turkey chilli
  • Wednesday – Protein shake with soy milk, veggies, buckwheat soba noodles, and beef brisket in miso broth, raw foods meal replacement bar, wild greens with turkey meatballs, cottage cheese and raspberries

So, let’s review:  Do I always eat healthy?  Hm…chocolate lava cake doesn’t strike me as very healthy. 

Okay, I admit – to the average American, the above menu actually looks pretty damn healthy.  In my previous life, the menu would probably have included a lot more fast food, creamy dishes, and various deep-fried edibles. 

It took a few years, but I eventually stopped eating fast food multiple times a week, and took a more conscious approach to what I was eating.

My husband of course helped me along the way.  He loves to research.  It’s not only what he does as part of his day job, but what he does during his free time.  He researches the latest in fitness trends, biomechanics, ways to grow his business, and nutrition and supplementation.

So, he’d come to me all excited about the latest findings he read about in some fancy study.  It seems that nutritional best practices are always changing and are confusing as hell.  One day eating starchy carbs post-workout is good, the next day it’s bad.  One study concludes that red meat is a superior form of protein, the other concludes that its acidity is bad for you.  One person says fruit smoothies are a good way to get your daily fruit servings, the other says there’s way too much sugar in them.

No wonder everyone is confused, including myself.  After years of trying to keep up, I’ve come to the conclusion that while I’ll try to abide by the latest findings, I’ll always adhere to the following basic principles:

  1. Eat small meals (aka “eating opportunities”) spread out throughout the day – about 3 hours apart – rather than 3 gigantic meals. (Helps maintain blood sugar levels and speeds up your metabolism.)
  2. Eat whole, organic foods.  The processed stuff contains way too many ingredients I can’t read.  And if I can’t read it, chances are my body won’t know what to do with it.
  3. Eat protein with every eating opportunity, preferably from a lean source such as chicken, fish, lean beef, etc.  Balances out the carbs, regulating the blood sugar levels and helps build your lean body mass (i.e. your muscles – which are a fat burning machine!)
  4. Drink tons and tons of water
  5. Eat tons and tons of vegetables
  6. Stay away from beverages that contain calories, especially those with high sugar content (JUST SAY NO TO SOFT DRINKS!). Drink fruit juices minimally, unless they’re straight from the fruit and contain some pulp in it for fiber.
  7. Stay away from ANYTHING deep-fried or smothered in cream.
  8. Reserve the right to violate any and all these rules 10% of the time. 

What does that last one mean?  It means that I’m human.  I can’t be expected to eat healthy ALL the time.  It would just be torcherous and inhumane to deprive me of my chocolate lava cake.

It means that I will adhere to these rules for about 38 of my 42 eating opportunities during the week, but I will let myself eat whatever the hell I want (in moderation of course) for the other four.  It means that I will and should reward myself for a job well-done.

And it’s a give and take.  If I’ve been doing really well with my workouts for the past few weeks, pushing myself hard and not skipping any workouts, I may cheat a little more.  If I’ve been lazy, I’ll try to compensate by being better with my nutrition.

Oh, and vacations?  Game over.  But I will plan accordingly and be extremely meticulous with my workouts and nutrition for the weeks leading up to it.  And I will also accept the consequences of my debauchery and detox when I get back.

So no, I don’t eat healthy all the time.  Neither does my husband.  (That chocolate lava cake came with two spoons.)  And neither should you.  You’ll be much more successful if you let yourself cheat once in a while.

Cheating can be a good thing – especially in the form of chocolate lava cake.  Oh, and cheesecake ain’t bad either.

An ooey, gooey, chocolatey piece of heaven on a plate.
An ooey, gooey, chocolatey piece of heaven on a plate.

FAQ #1: Have you always been fit?

If you’ve read my “About” page, you already know the answer to this one.  Before I met my husband in college, I had never set foot in a gym before.  Okay, that’s slightly a lie.  There were those times in middle school P.E. class when we had “weight training” week.  We all crammed into this tiny weight room.  And while I curled probably all of five pounds – yes with both arms – the boys in my class dangerously attempted to lift way more than they had any business lifting. 

My most vivid memory of that time was when one of those boys took all the weight off one end of his bench press bar, and subsequently the bar tipped due to the imbalance and conked him in the ear.  A bloody mess ensued.  (Don’t worry, he lived.  With not even a scar to be seen.)

Prior to meeting my husband, my favorite meal was Burger King’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich with a large fries and medium orange soda.  Mmm…I still crave it to this day.  But back in those days, I ate that every day.  If it wasn’t the chicken sandwich, it was a nice, big, juicy Whopper. 

Before college, I didn’t exactly eat very healthy either.  Anyone who’s Filipino would understand that hot dogs are breakfast food.  (It’s part of the sausage family, right?)  Therefore, corn dogs were a perfectly acceptable way to start the day.

But when I went to college, I discovered the dorm room cafeteria food.  I ate a burger at least 4 times a week.  The cafeteria ladies piled meatloaf and mashed potatoes a mile high on my plate.  And as my mother taught me, there are starving children in Africa, so I had to finish all my food.

Before I knew it, my Freshman Fifteen quickly turned into Freshman Thirty.  My size -3 turned into a distant memory.  My clear complexion turned into pepperoni pizza. 

At the time, I didn’t even realize what was happening.  Then I went home for the holidays, and my family so graciously pointed it out to me.  (Families are great for that, aren’t they?)  But I had no idea what to do about it. 

What? You mean what I eat impacts my weight and my skin?  What?  I should work out?  How do I do that?

Fast forward a couple years, and I met my husband.  When I met him, I had lost about twenty of the Freshman Thirty I gained, but I was definitely not fit.  (Losing weight from stress and partying doesn’t count.)  Skip over the awkward first time in a gym, the encounters with disgusting protein shakes, and the time my mom told me I was starting to “look like a man” (those are all better topics for future postings), and here I am today.  In probably the best shape I’ve ever been in.

It’s been a long road.  So, have I always been fit?  That’s an emphatic hell no.

He makes you work out every day, doesn’t he?

I was in my Saturday morning workout class, a class of about 10 people who are trying to get fit. A woman on the mat next to me, sweat beading down her forehead while struggling to maintain a plank position, asked me, “So does [insert my husband’s name here] make you work out a lot?”

No, this isn’t the first time I’ve been asked this question. Other variations include: “Do you and [insert my husband’s name here] eat healthy all the time?”, “[Insert husband’s name here] must force you to go to the gym at least 5 times a week, doesn’t he?”, and “Does [insert my husband’s name here] yell at you if you eat a Big Mac?”

Just as I started feeling that shaky “there’s no way I can hold this position any longer” feeling, I saw a pair of feet walk up to my mat. Our group fitness trainer half jokingly, but all annoyingly told us to stop talking and keep our abs and glutes tight.

I gave him a dirty look. The kind I do whenever he tells me to stop being a wuss and do another push-up, lat pulldown, or split squat. The kind I do whenever he tells me to quit nagging about the dirty dishes he left in the sink or the trash I asked him to take out three days ago.

Yes, my husband is my trainer. I’m married to a personal trainer and fitness entrepreneur.

So this is my blog. For those of you who either love or hate seeing your trainer for that hour a week or however often you see him or her, I’m here to tell you I feel you. I have to live with mine.