That is a picture of me from roughly a decade ago. At the time I worked for the Landmark River Oaks Theater, which means I basically ate nothing but popcorn which contains A) few calories and B) some chemical that makes you forget what hunger is. I was also training to be a luchador twice a week, two hours at a time, on the carpet-covered driveway of a 60-year-old Mexican wrestler who worked construction during the day and thought water breaks were a sign of terminal pussydom. I had to quit wrestling literally because my body wouldn't hold enough fat to cushion falls and it hurt too bad. Also because a drunk opponent broke my wrists, but that's another story. My point is, I was in shape.
Now, I'm a professional writer and I sit for eight hours a day trying to make dick jokes and news appear in the harsh white space of my word processor. There's not a lot of exercise involved, and with the demands of a day job and a toddler I don't really have the energy to work out. That's why I bought Arkham City, so I could channel Batmanedness through the PS3 because I have about as much of a grip on science as I do on physical fitness.
About a month a go my scale looked up at me and snarked, "200 lbs is creeping up on you, brah. I'm just saying that rock and roll superstardom stops at one Justaburger." So I downloaded myself the MyFitnessPal app on my iPhone (Great fucking app by the way!), and decided to start carving some of the jelly out of my belly. Get myself back down to skinny goth boy that looks like the last girl he slept with had tuberculosis. You know what I found out? Dieting turns many everyday tasks into ass-chapping nightmares of inconvenience and frustration. Things like...
Keeping track of your calories is difficult, even with something as handy as the app. This goes double with cooking because you quickly find that accurate tracking mean spending at least 10 minutes per cooked dish entering ingredients and recipes into a database and waiting for it to spit out your total.
Sure, once you have it it's saved, and most of us have a kitchen repertoire that makes McDonald's look like varied dining in comparison, but even once that's done you have to deal with the fact that every recipe is meant for four people and you have to quarter your meal like a mental patient with severe OCD just to stay accurate. Of course, before you cook you have to...
One of the things I love about the MyFitnessPal app is that you can scan your food's barcode right into your food diary. It ensures an accurate calorie count, and is awesome future technology to boot. I started with a pretty staple dish in my house, broiled sausage. Throw it in the oven on a rack for ten minutes and done.
I scanned it in and wholly fuck! A single package is supposed to be seven servings. Seven. I was making it two. Once you're dieting you begin realizing that all food is packaged to keep you fat, and every purchase is a grim reminder. I bought Pringles, and a serving is 16 chips. This is really difficult to overcome in a culture where clean your plate is like a commandment from God. This brings me to...
How big a plate did you eat your dinner off of this evening? I bet it was roughly the diameter of a basketball. Let me tell you something, unless you have a physically demanding job or bike to work or something, filling that plate will make you Jabba faster than you can say, "Pointless prequel cameo."
My prescribed daily limit is 1,680 calories a day, and the sausage meal I mentioned with a plain baked potato makes up more than a quarter of that, even if all I drink with it is water. I set that meal down on the plates I got at my wedding and it was just painful. One sad little link and a scared looking starch surrounded by a sea of existentially horrifying white porcelain. When you're dieting, every serving on a normal plate glares at you like you're an inadequate lover.
Eating out is supposed to be either fun, or at the very least save you the hassle of cooking. But not so fast. You're on a diet, and you have to track what impact the food other people prepare is doing to your progress. Of course, those people really don't want to let you know how many calories you're consuming most of the time.
But most programs have the major chain restaurants and fast food joints entered in their databases... a point that becomes moot when you discover that the Quarter Pounder meal with a Coke you've been regularly eating is a whopping 1,100 calories. Even comparatively healthy choices like Subway are a hassle to work with because you end up trapped in a maze of different variations on your sandwich. And if you decide to take a date somewhere not on the national Cheesecake Factory level? Good luck trying to figure out the total for your meal.
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But booze carries calories, and even though that whole beer belly thing is a myth, you still have to account for your consumption. And let's be honest, you had better account for it before you do it because alcohol impairs judgment faster than daddy issues.
That means if you're going to drink, you'd better be aware of exactly how much. My advice is to stick to wine at home because it scans right in and is pretty cheap from a calorie standpoint. Start with the fancy cocktails, and you wouldn't believe how close to Big Mac territory you get with just one chocolate martini.