Having a meaningful and stable life involves balancing all the elements. While I became a fitness enthusiast recently, I did not make any measures to deprive myself. I established my own cheat days in between workouts so that I will not gorge in all the sweets my hands could get. Sometimes, even during the middle of the week, I can grab a chocolate bar.
But I usually strategize that my cheat days would fall on the days that I have to meet my friends, for maximum enjoyment. 🙂
For the longest time, I avoided going to J. Co because of the legendary queue that rivals those of the most in demand FX or AUVs in the city. It’s really insane. The only branch that does not have much of a line of customers is the one in Eastwood. But Homer and I went to that branch in SM North, college days style.
Catching up over a yummy sampling of J. Co’s famous donuts and signature J. Coccino drink is something I consider as welcome breathers to my otherwise rigid, semi-monastic hermitage. I rarely meet friends these days, and on the rare occasions that I do go out to meet the nearest and dearest, I make sure that I document it for safekeeping, online and offline.
Like a well-matched pair of glazed donuts to ice cold coffee, true friends are sweet, fabulous, and refreshing to be with.
You do not dread seeing them, and they love you whether you are shaped like a Coke Litro or a Coke 8 oz. bottle. And true friends like that are quite hard to find, so even when schedules are busy and deadlines are a-plenty, it is always just right to fight for the time to see them and keep in touch.
Not having a social media account or presence makes most friends complain. They say that it’s hard to track me down. That it makes me a friend from hell. And I admit that it is true. But it makes all my subsequent interactions more meaningful.
Now, when I have a date with someone, Facebook does not get ahead of me in announcing news about important updates in that person’s life. While status updates are quite nice to stay on track with other people’s happenings, I still think that there is a unique charm when you hear the updates straight from the person and face to face. Smileys cannot capture everything. Smileys are definitely no replacement for fooling around with the camera offline and looking silly but happy in a very public place:
I really spend a huge chunk of my free time with my meditative pursuits and my partner. The balance of managing commitments to friends, to my partner, and to my large family is quite a challenge. It’s good that I was able to extricate myself from the noise of too much digital information on people’s timelines. This is a challenge that comes from the inherent blessing that I have a lot of people to love. And most of the time, they miraculously love me back. And when they make time to see me even when I am not really visible in the usual social channels, it makes me feel even more loved and valued as a person.
Even if I am trying to live a healthier lifestyle, I do not really fare well with counting calories religiously. But I know that somewhere in the fitness journey, you have to handle these things.
If you ask me if I am counting calories, I will say YES AND NO. Allow me to explain.
I do not make a detailed count. But I tend to make mental estimates. I also do not hang on to the weighing scale or tape measure that much; I just estimated my initial improvement based on clothing sizes. I only knew that my waistline was a 26″ already when I bought tight 27″ jeggings from Bench and it was still a bit too big for me. I knew that I was a 32″ or 33″ in 2013 because I had to buy new pairs of pants in that waistline range that time.
When I look at something so yummy like this:
I do two things, and two things only.
First, I enjoy the goodies to the extent that I am able. I developed this skill of being in tune with my body. So when I am full, I make everything in my body aware of that fact. But I enjoy every single bite without guilt feelings.
I already have an inkling when it is 70-80% full. I eat my food and chew it slowly. When I reach my 70-80% fullness level, I stop eating. If I know that I am going to eat desserts, I make sure that my main meal is very light for the evening. I also sometimes do offsetting in other times of day by eating one tablespoon of rice less during lunchtime to make room for an extra dessert during dinnertime. Or I jog in place during afternoon for a few minutes to advance my feasting in the evening.
I visualize my tummy as a tiny compartment, and I optimize the space by determining portions beforehand. That kind of psych preparation actually helps. I do not have to deprive myself totally of sweet things, but I try to keep everything in proper proportion. When “the room is full” in my head, I kind of automatically stop craving for more.
I did some very menial computation for calories but only enough to inform me that my ideal calorie intake per day is 1,300+. I just make estimates on each food intake based on sizes, number of seasonings (sugary and salty foods are definitely on the high zone), and my body cravings. But you won’t catch me dead updating an app devotedly up to the serving size level. During my menstrual period, I tend to take note that I crave more salt and sugar than usual. And I’d try to take more fluids to stave off the cravings somewhat.
The second thing I do is convert the extra food into some form of workout priority. I try to think of a tiny activity to offset the additional calorie intake. No calculations or fitness apps in place here, mind you. For example, each donut I eat is equivalent to a 6-minute brisk walk with my core muscles engaged. On my way home, instead of taking a pedicab or tricycle, I’d decide to walk the way home for 15 minutes to offset my consumption. I did cheat on junk food for that day, but that does not mean I lost my mind or let myself go in that moment without putting it against the backdrop of my fitness regimen.
But it’s not something I measure so much. I just make offsets depending on the level of bloated or full feeling that I have after eating junk foods or sweets. It’s almost completely intuitive on my end. If I feel like I did not put my tummy tank to overflowing, I just go about my normal routine. 🙂 I can eat a Cadbury bar at whim and not feel guilty because I would be able to estimate how much work it would take me to keep it from nesting permanently as fat on my tummy.
In college, I read this nice fitness book that estimated certain foods to its appropriate workout equivalent. If I remember it correctly, I learned from there that a single Big Mac Value Meal is equivalent to 1.5 hours of non-stop running, a single donut is equivalent to 12-14 minutes of non-stop running, etc. I just kind of embedded these estimates in my head and let myself be guided accordingly for most of my dining experiences. Here is a nice excerpt from the The Diet Detective’s Countdown book to help you get started with your own estimations for fitness’ sake.
It’s really good to have true friends with you from time to time while you do all these. You will be able to get a nudge from them if you are eating too much or eating too little. That will keep you sane and keep you from being myopic about your eating habits. 🙂 And you can still have your fun while sharing the good vibes and the well-allotted calories.